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Róbinson Rojas Sandford
Doctoral dissertation, London, 1984
[pp. 47-84]                    FIRST SECTION
                                       CHAPTER ONE
             The conditions of collision and dissolution.
        The actors: the Maya empire, the Aztec empire,
                                       the Inca Empire
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The existence of merchant's capital and the Absolutist State were crucial economic and political factors in the invasion, conquest and colonisation of the New World. They constituted the most important external pressures on the New World, creating a production system suitable for their needs, on the one hand, and for the building of the emerging unique economic and political circumstances of the New World, on the other hand.
        Mechanical conceptualising of the role of merchant's capital in colonial Latin America has led to theories which wrongly assume that merchant's capital generated capitalist relations of production in the continent, and that this was inevitable.
        For instance, one Latin American historian has written: "By multiplying mercantile capital and stimulating international trade, the commercial revolution, which had begun in the fifteenth century, lined the fate of one nation to others, intensifying economic interdependence. The type of economy which the Iberian metropolis organised was of a definite colonial nature, oriented to the Central and Western European markets. This same purpose motivated the Luso-Spanish producers in the new continent. Colonial capitalism, rather than feudalism, was the type of economic structure which appeared in America in the period we are studying...Iberian America was born to integrate the cycle of incipient capitalism, not to prolong the languishing feudal cycle..."(1)
        Sergio Bagu incorrectly assumes that merchant's capital and international commerce are both specific features of capitalism.
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Disregarding international trade in Babylonian times, we should recall that during the several centuries of the Roman Empire, trade was crucial. Roman ships brought slaves, cloth and gems from the Orient, tin from Britain, and so on; and there was a very tight "economic interdependence" between many nations. Nevertheless, the slave mode of production, dominant during this period did not develop into a capitalist, but rather a feudal form.
       Such poor analysis led Bagu (and afterwards Andre Gunder Frank) to assume that "Iberian America was born to integrate the cycle of incipient capitalism". The most that can be said about this "birth" is that the Iberian American production system was a process initiated from the needs of merchant's capital in the XVI, XVII, XVIII centuries, when the FMP was still dominant in the social formation of Western Europe. This was a period in which "incipient capitalism" was trying to evolve through a class struggle against/within the FMP, with, more often than not, feudal ruling class obtaining the support of important sectors of merchant's capital in its struggle against the emergent bourgeoisie.
       Bagu, Frank et al do no take into account the fact that merchant's capital produced different effects in different modes of production. In feudal Western Europe it helped, in general, to develop capitalist relations of production, whereas in Iberian America it impaired this form of development. Merchant's capital is not, in itself capable of producing the transition from one mode of production to another.
       In accordance with Marx, "within the capitalist mode of production -i.e., as soon as capital has established its sway over production and imparted to it a wholly changed and specific form- merchant's capital appears merely as
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a capital with a specific function. In all previous modes of production, and all the more, wherever production ministers to the immediate wants of the producer, merchant's capital appears to perform the function par excellence of capital...yet its incapable by itself of promoting and explaining the transition from one mode of production to another...Within capitalist production merchant's capital is reduced from its former independent existence to a special phase in the investment of capital, and the levelling of profits reduces its rate of profit to the general average. It functions only as an agent of productive capital...On the contrary, wherever merchant's capital still predominates we find backward conditions (my emphasis, R.R.)...This is true even within one and the same country, in which, for instance, the specifically merchants towns present far more striking analogies with past conditions than industrial towns...The independent and predominant development of capital as merchant's capital is tantamount to the non-subjection of production to capital, and hence to capital developing on the basis of an alien social mode of production which is also independent of it. The independent development of merchant's capital, therefore, stands in inverse proportion to the general economic development of society". (my emphasis, R.R.) (2)
       Because merchant's capital is confined to the sphere of circulation, its exclusive function consists of promoting the exchange of commodities. Therefore, its conditions of existence are solely those in which money has appeared in the cycle of simple circulation of commodities. That is why "merchant's capital, is older than the capitalist mode of production, is, in fact, historically the oldest free state of existence of capital" (3).
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       Since simple circulation of commodities and money can be found in any mode of production, as soon as different communities surpass direct barter between each other, merchant's capital can exist and develop itself no matter what the basis of production of commodities which enter into the process of circulation. Merchant's capital does not create production of commodities, but, rather, promotes their exchange. It finds products as commodities "on the spot" in order to act as mediator between the two extremes between which these commodities must be moved. It is immaterial to merchant's capital whether commodities are produced in a primitive community, or slave latifundio, feudal manor or capitalist industry.
       Nevertheless, even when merchant's capital is not concerned with "the social organisation of the spheres of production whose commodity exchange" this capital promotes, it exerts pressure on that social organisation. For the "development of commerce and merchant's capital give rise everywhere to the tendency towards production of exchange-values, increases its volume, multiplies it, makes it cosmopolitan, and develops money into world-money. Commerce, therefore, has a more or less dissolving influence everywhere on the producing organisation, which it finds at hand and whose different forms are mainly carried on with a view to use- value. To what extent it brings about a dissolution of the old mode of production depends on its solidity and internal structure. And whither this process of dissolution will lead, in other words, what new mode of production will replace the old, does not depend on commerce, but on the character of the old mode of production itself. (my emphasis, R.R.) In the ancient world the effect of commerce and the development of the merchant's capital always resulted in a slave economy, depending on the point of departure, only in the transformation of a patriarchal slave system devoted to the production of immediate means of subsistence
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into one devoted to the production of surplus-value. However, in the modern world, it results in the capitalist mode of production. It follows therefrom that these results spring in themselves from circumstances other than the development of merchant's capital". (4)
       During the overseas expansion of Atlantic Europe, the effects of merchant's capital on the Western European feudal mode of production and on the Luso-Spanish America were very different.
       Referring to Western Europe from the late XV century to mid-XVIII century, Magdoff writes:
       "The main features of this period of expansion -conquest of South America, exploitation of the gold and silver resources found there, and the diversion of established trade- reflect the state of the arts of the period. The relatively undeveloped means of production and the consequently small currently produced economic surplus left direct robbery, whenever practical, as one of the most effective means of accumulating wealth. Hence looting, plunder and piracy were primary agents of redistribution and new concentrations of wealth. This redistribution took two forms: (a) skimming off by the Europeans of as much as possible of the accumulated surplus of the rest of the world, and (b) conflict among leading European nations -Spain, Portugal, Holland, France and England- for access to the wealth of other continents, including what they could pirate from each other on the high seas...In the long run, the flood of new products from the East, the huge flow of precious metals from America, the opening of new markets, and the demand generated by the several states in the pursuit and establishment of colonies enormously stimulated the expansion
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of Western manufactures and the ascendancy of the European bourgeoisies -in short, paved the way for the global triumph of capitalism. But there was a limit to the profitability of this first wave of overseas expansion: the wealth obtained by plunder of hoards amassed over years can only be taken once."
       "...There were, moreover, further contradictions contributing to the drying up of the benefits from the first wave of overseas expansion: 1.- The handsome profits derived from taking over the trade routes of others do not grow unless the trade itself keeps on expanding, and this did not occur as long as the old modes of production remained intact. 2.- Profits from the spice trade dropped, squeezed by restricted supplies on the one side and increasing costs of defending monopolistic control against rival nations on the other. The flow of precious metals from South America declined as the richest mines became exhausted, given the backward techniques then in use, and as the labour force of the superexploited Indians dried up." (5)
       Simultaneously, the introduction into Western Europe of new products (coffee, chocolate, tea, potatoes, tomatoes, maize, etc), and the imports from America of vast quantities of gold and silver, not only enlarged the market but brought with it a huge increase in international liquidity. Springing from it there was an enormous increase in international trade with a related rapid development in the ship-building and metal-working industries. At the same time, international trade allowed a notable accumulation of money- capital, it favoured the establishment and the growth of the middle classes and stimulated the expansion and diversification of demand. Added to this, since accumulation in the feudal mode of production was based on military conquest (in its various forms of looting, plunder, robbery, piracy, etc. in the colonies and on sea routes), the wars between European nations brought forth a
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notable development of manufacturing potential (6). This pressure on the pattern of demand developed at a time when a layer of rich tenants was emerging from the feudal manor, who were utilising free wage labour as the most sensible way to increase agricultural production for the market. There was a growing tendency to create access to this wage labour through pushing poor peasants off the land. In a word, the collapse of the feudal manor was producing landless peasants, whose only way to survive without the rural areas was by seeking employment as wage labourers in the towns. On the other hand, in the towns money-capital was available for the production of the new products required by the ruling class for wars of conquest and domination. Thus, eventually, money-capital combined with free labourers in order to produce commodities for the expanded Western European market, based on capitalist relations of production already evolving from the dissolution of the feudal mode of production in the countryside.
       In a word, in Western Europe the dominance of merchant's capital helped a further development of capitalist social relations of production, and pushed forward the collapse of the feudal mode of production already generating capitalist relations of production, because the FMP was unable to meet merchant's capital needs for new types of commodities in huge quantities. Eventually, this process brought forth the appearance and development of industrial capital which dominated the production system, destroying the dominance of merchant's capital and establishing itself as the core of the capitalist mode of production in the XIX century.
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       Merchant's capital domination had very different effects in Luso-Spanish America. Concerned only with the extraction of gold and silver, it initially attempted to establish the same social relations of production that were dominant in Western Europe at the time: that of the landlord-tenant relation. However, in the Americas there were two productive systems, both based on collective ownership of the means of production. One of them, a classless society in its tribal stage, was almost destroyed by the attempt and was replaced by a system of slave production. In the other, in a transition between classless and class society, the new social organisation of labour took the form of a landlord- collective tenant relation (under the encomienda system). The inner contradiction of this basic social relation of production proved to be irresolvable, leading to the collapse of the encomienda system. Then, given the unlimited availability of land and direct labourers, a new social relation of production emerged: that of landlord-peon. That is, in Luso-Spanish America, during the dominance of merchant's capital, there was never enough free labour available to unite with money-capital and develop capitalist relations of production. Neither was there individual peasant production, which could develop into a feudal mode of production. So, the effects of merchant's capital penetration led to an attempt to develop slave production, on the one hand, and to produce a new production system (the landlord-peon) on the other hand, which eventually resulted in a specific mode of production, as I will outline further on in the next chapter.
       In other words, in Luso- Spanish America, this is a further proof of Marx's conclusion that even when merchant's capital
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has a "dissolving influence everywhere on the producing organisation", the new mode of production which will replace the old, does not depend on commerce, but on the character of the old mode itself".
       So much for merchant's capital as one of the most important external means whereby the feudal mode of production and the modes of production existing in Luso-Spanish America collided and dissolved during the colonial times. This comprised the main economic factor.
       We can now move on to the other external factor - the political: the Absolutist State.
       Under the twofold pressure of the peasant's revolts and burghers economic and political development, the FMP entered into a protracted period of crisis during the XIV and XV centuries in Western Europe. Out of this crisis the Absolutist State emerged as a new policy capable of re-submitting peasants to the feudal landlords, ensuring an alliance between burghers and landlords in order to maintain the peasantry in their lowly socio-economic position, and prevent conflicts between individuals or groups within the feudal aristocracy at a time when its economic and political power was seriously weakened.
       Conquest and colonisation of  Ibero America coincided with Absolutism in Western Europe. Since the latter political organisation was feudal in character it constituted a vehicle attempting to impose a feudal organisation of labour in Ibero- America with limits laid down by the Crown's need to avoid the emergence of a feudal nobility in the region capable of disputing the former's ascendancy over the subordinate colonial ruling class.
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       During the XIV and XV centuries economic and political crisis in Western Europe, the population decreased, the people became discontented , and industry and trade shrank as direct result both of the FMP's incapacity to cope with the new needs of increased productivity and natural disasters such as the Black Death in mid- fourteenth century.
       It was a period marked by a new upsurge of commerce which produced increasing monetary requirements for the feudal lords. Therefore, the manorial production system developed in a direction in which rent in money rather than labour rent and rent in kind was the dominant form. Feudal tenants were able to accumulate surplus- labour, and the individual peasant economy tended to develop further. The revival of trade and industry exerting steady pressure on serfdom as inadequate, and weakening the political power of the feudal lords as a consequence. The latter attempted to stop this trend by military force against the peasantry. As a response, peasants rose in revolt; in the town workmen fought the rich merchants who kept them in a powerless position.
       The historian H.A.L. Fisher wrote of XIV century Western Europe, that there was a "marked acceleration of that process of converting labour services into money payments":
       This change "was due to the fact that owing to the dearth of labour the peasant was able to demand a higher price for his toil, and the lord of the manor was no longer always in a position to secure the working of his demesne land save by the novel expedient of labour hired from outside. The revolutionary possibilities of such a situation greatly alarmed the governing class both in France and England. In France workmen were forbidden to take more than a third of their
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former wage. In England, Parliament called labourers and artisans to their old rate of wage and forbade them to move from one country to another. Political economy, like nature, may be expelled with a fork, but it always returns. The legislation of the Edwardian parliaments was unavailing to arrest a process grounded in the economic necessities of the time. As the value of labour services to the lord steadily diminished, the convenience of a mobile labour supply, remunerated by money payments, became ... more clearly apparent. So the old manorial economy was gradually sapped by new forces, and as the villain became detached from his bondage to the soil, and began to sell his labour freely in the market, voices were raised challenging the whole social order" ...(7)
       Added to this, economic pressure forced the ruling class to accumulate surplus-labour through the feudal form of accumulation: war and military conquest. In 1337, the english king and his feudal lords initiated aggression against france, in the Hundred Years' War:
       "The burden of heavy taxation was offset for the commonality of our island not only by the glamour of foreign victory, but by the conviction that the war was good for trade, that it enabled England to sell her wool in Bruges and Ghent, to buy her wine from Bordeaux, and to find a continental market for her tin, her iron, and her hides" (8)
       In addition to the atrocities committed by the armies against the population living in the continent, there were further far- reaching consequences of this protracted continental war. As financial resources
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for the war became insufficient, so existing taxes, and "new sources of revenue had to be discovered; as price levels rose, the relations between the employer and the employed, the tradesman and the customer, the landlord and the peasant became difficult and embittered. In the decade between 1375 and 1385 a wave of popular discontent passed over Western Europe. It was felt in Flanders, in northern France, in Ghent, and most seriously in the English peasant rising of 1381. Everywhere the ruling class was for a moment seriously alarmed" ...(9)
       The feudal lords were no longer in a position to maintain their status as a ruling class through their individual effort in each dominion. The merchants could not continue trading at the international level in the context of feudal insecurity; most importantly, the direct labourers constituted a threat to social organisation with the decline in the cohesiveness of the ruling class. Consequently, the royalty benefited from this situation, which led to the necessity for a centralised national state, a "redeployed and recharged apparatus of feudal domination, designed to clamp the peasants masses back into their traditional special position - despite and against the gains they had won by the widespread commutation of dues", as P Anderson says, accurately adding that "the new form of noble power was in its turn determined by the spread of commodity production and exchange, in the transitional social formations of the early modern epoch"...(10)
       This was the Absolutist State, as it emerged in the XVI century in Western Europe.
       The peasantry, however was not the only force the ruling class had to contend with during the period we are concerned with. The merchant class was also a threat to noble power. Furthermore its presence
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determined in part the shape of Absolutist States, as Anderson writes:
"Simultaneously, however, the aristocracy had to adjust to a second antagonist: the mercantile bourgeoisie which had developed in the medieval towns" ...."it was precisely the intercalation of this third presence that prevented the Western nobility from settling its accounts with the peasantry in Eastern fashion, by smashing its resistance and fettering it to the manor"..."Thus when the Absolutist States were constituted in the West, their structure was fundamentally determined by the feudal regroupment against the peasantry, after the dissolution of serfdom; but it was secondarily overdetermined by the rise of an urban bourgeoisie which after a series of technical and commercial advances was now developing into pre-industrial manufactures on a considerable scale"...and again "the threat of peasant unrest, unspokenly constitutive of the Absolutist State, was thus always conjoined with the pressure of mercantile or manufacturing capital within the Western economies as a whole, in moulding the contours of aristocratic class power in the new age. The peculiar form of the Absolutist State in the West derives from this double determination"...(11)
       So, although the Absolutist State constituted a strong, articulated structure limiting the individual political power of feudal lords, it was primarily a feudal state ultimately administering the feudal nobility's collective interests. During the whole period of Absolutism, the dominant class - both economically and politically - was the feudal aristocracy, the same ruling class as in the medieval age. Even when serfdom disappeared, "yet it is evident that private extra-economic coercion, personal dependence, and the combination of the immediate
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producer with the instruments of production, did not necessarily vanish when the rural surplus ceased to be extracted in the form of labour or deliveries in kind, and became rent in money: so long as aristocratic agrarian property blocked a free market in land and factual mobility of manpower - in other words, as long as labour was not separated from the social conditions of its existence to become "labour-power" - rural relations of production remained feudal"...(12)
       Moreover, this rent in money was merely a change in form from rent in kind, in the same way as rent in kind was a change in form from labour rent, depending on the development of the forces of production. Therefore "the basis of this type of rent, although approaching its dissolution, remains the same as that of rent in kind, which constitutes its point of departure. The direct producer as before is still possessor of the land, either through inheritance or some other traditional right, and must perform for his lord, as owner of his most essential condition of production, excess corvee-labour, that is, unpaid labour for which no equivalent is returned, in the form of surplus-product transformed into money"...(13)
       Consequently, although Absolutism - as a policy - corresponds to a transitional stage between a dominance by a feudal and by a capitalist mode of production in Western Europe, the dominant mode of production remained feudal.
       Naturally, the transformation of rent in kind into rent in money must take place when there is a significant increase in commerce and urban manufacture, that is, in the production of commodities and hence in the circulation of money. Hence the Absolutist state's introduction
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of a permanent bureaucracy, national taxation, codified law, and the beginnings of a unified market. All of these features present the appearance of capitalism.
       Nevertheless, since the social relations of production remained the same during the period - because the emergent bourgeoisie didn't succeed in overthrowing the feudal aristocracy in all nations at the same time - the superstructure of Western Europe remained feudal.
       As Engels wrote of this period: "this mighty revolution in the conditions of the economic life of society was, however, not followed by any immediate corresponding change in its political structure. The political order remained feudal, while society became more and more bourgeois"...(14)
       Elaborating on this point, Anderson states: "The specific weight of mercantile and manufacturing capital within most of the Western social formations was rising throughout this century (XVIII century), which saw the second great wave of commercial and colonial expansion overseas. But it only determined state policy where a bourgeois revolution had already occurred and absolutism had been overthrown, in England and Holland. Elsewhere, there is no more striking sign of the structural continuity of the late feudal state into its final phase than the persistence of its traditional military traditions"...(15)
       To summarise: the conquest and colonisation of the New World was determined by two major external historical conditions: the dominance of merchant's capital at the economic level, and of the Absolutist policy,
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at the political level, both existing with a feudal social formation...(16)
       Consequently a feudal ideology was reproduced in the New World through the action of the conquerors. Conquest and colonisation were conducted and organised within strong seigneural structures. There was a clear attempt, from the very beginning, to impose the landlord-tenant relation as it existed in Western Europe at the time.
       Equally important for my analysis is the fact that neither merchant's capital nor the pressure of the Absolutist State on the system of production of the New World forced it in a capitalist direction. This was so because both pressures were always exerted in the direction of maintaining unfree labour and static ownership of the land, impeding manufacturing development and market enlargement.
       Last, but not least, even when the Absolutist State in Spain tried to impose feudal relations of production in the New World, the main concern of merchant's capital was not with the forms of relations of production imposed, but rather with a form of the latter capable of ensuring merchant's capital the type of commodities it required.
      Thus, the main role that merchant's capital and Absolutism played in the shaping of the New World's system of production was not that of imposing a specific structure, but of exerting pressure on the system in order to produce particular commodities at the lowest possible cost. Thus, the creation of the new system of production was an undertaking of the colonists themselves rather than an imposition by the Spanish Crown or merchants. This explains why there was no process of destruction of the indigenous system of production and its replacement
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by a western european form of feudal mode of production, as such.
The particular features assumed by the new system of production were determined by: a) the specific commodities which merchant's capital and the Absolutist State in Spain and Portugal required from the region, and b) the needs of the colonial ruling class to strengthen its dominance and reproduce the conditions of this dominance based upon a particular organisation of labour.
In response to these pressures the indigenous system of production also entered into a process of dissolution until it became a component part of the colonial system of production, as we shall see later on.
       No analysis is possible unless we have a clear understanding of the main aspects of the societies which played the major roles in the conquest and colonisation of the New World. The relation conqueror- conquered was between Iberian society and the indigenous societies of the New World. The actors who played out the colonial epic in the New continent had distinctive characteristics which were of the utmost importance in the ultimate evolution of the whole process.
THE CONQUERED PEOPLES - "Sixteenth-century Europeans found a flourishing and highly sophisticated agriculture in what is now Latin America. Inca and Aztec farmers produced sufficient surpluses to support large urban populations and armies. Cotton, maize, tobacco, chocolate, potatoes, yarns, manioc, quinoa, and many varieties of beans, squash and fruit, were only a few of the many crops selected and cultivated
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by indigenous breeders. The llama had been domesticated on the Andean Altiplano, providing a rather unsatisfactory basis for a real livestock economy but serving nonetheless as a beast of burden and a source of meat and wool. Irrigation and fertilisation techniques were highly developed. Even in large areas inhabited by semi-nomadic tribes, agriculture was well advanced. The organisation of agricultural production for the most part consisted of plots worked by family groups on communally-owned land with many tasks such as the construction of irrigation works executed in common"...(17)
       The above description is in no way an overstatement. The American ethnographer Von Hagen writes that the capital city of the Aztec empire "formed a city one mile and three fourth square and containing upwards of 2,500 acres. This was a sizable area: Rome's wall at the time of Marcus Aurelius enclosed a city of only 3,500 acres; London in the time of Samuel Pepys was scarcely any larger"..."The great city of Tenochtitlan, wrote Cortes...'is two leagues (five miles) any point on the mainland. Four causeways lead to it...some twelve feet wide'..."..."The city, like Cuzco, capital of the Incas in Peru, was divided into four sections, corresponding to the causeways, which entered the city from three of the four cardinal directions. Each formal entrance to the city proper had a roadblock, where taxes were collected."..."Mexico's Tenochtitlan had no more than ninety thousand inhabitants. Even 'reduced' it was still one of the largest cities in the world: at that time London had no more than forty thousand, Paris could boast sixty-five thousand"...(18)
       And as far as the size of armies are concerned, it is known that in the Inca Empire about one tenth of the whole population was constantly serving under the Inca's flag.(19) The percentage is impressive in
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an empire with a population of between 5-7 million. It is possible that the figure comprises the workers engaged in public works as well.
       At the peak of Inca civilisation, from 1450 to 1532, the empire stretched from what it is today southern Colombia (the Ancasmayo river, on 2 degrees N. latitude) to central Chile (the Maule river, 34 degrees S. latitude), i.e. approximately 4,500 km. from north to south, and around 2,250,000 square km. -quite a considerable size if we remember that the Roman Empire at its peak during Trajan -A.D. 117- covered 6,500,000 sq. km., and the entire Western Europe area is less than 5,000,000 sq. km.
       Two main roads linked the populated areas of the Inca Empire. One, the Andean royal road, was 3,250 miles in length -longer than the longest Roman road, from Hadrian's Wall in Scotland to Jerusalem- going from southern Colombia to South America's southern tip. Its width was between fifteen and eighteen feet, and until the nineteenth century, it was the longest arterial road in history. The other was the coastal road, 2,520 miles in length, with a standard width of twenty-four feet.
       "The empire did not need so elaborate a network of roads for economical reasons, since most of the provinces had considerable economic independence; for the north-south axis such a road designed for pure commerce was superfluous. In the main they were roads of conquest. Once a territory was conquered, the roads were important for control over the newly annexed territory". (20)
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       In its turn, alongside the Maya civilisation, the Aztec empire comprised around 25 million people in Central America. At its peak the Aztec Empire had 371 vassal cities yielding tribute.
This digression -outlining some of the main public works of two of the major civilisations in Ibero America- was necessary in order to emphasize the existence of a significant surplus production. This mirrors the existence of an articulated organisation of labour, which played an important role in shaping the development of the colonial system of production.
       The most developed civilisations in the continent can be grouped into three zones.
       a) Mesoamerica, which comprised most of contemporary Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.
       Aztec and Maya civilisations developed here, covering an area of 400,000 square kilometers each. The Spaniards established contact with the Aztecs in 1519 and with the Mayas in 1527. Big-city builders, they had written language with an extensive use of paper. Arithmetic and astronomy were highly developed. They were class societies with a strong state apparatus and a comprehensive social organisation.
       b) Caribbean America, which comprised the Antilles islands, Costa Rica, panama and the Atlantic coastal areas of Colombia, Venezuela and Guyana. These were societies at a stage of tribal organisation, classless, and, most probably influenced by the Mayas -the only maritime people in the continent,
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developing a more sophisticated organisation of labour. The Arawaks, in the Antilles islands, were manioc and maize cultivators and the most developed in the area. The Spaniards had their first contacts with them in 1492; in a few years all the men had been killed and the women became slaves. The Caraib survived longer, attempting to fight against the Spanish invasion.
       c) Andean America, which comprised the Inca Empire -from Colombia to Chile, the territory between the Andes Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. It was the site of the most developed society of the continent before the arrival of the Spaniard conquerors. And, as in the Aztec region, the remains of their organisation survived until the XX century. A class society, it had the strongest state apparatus in the Americas. The Spanish conquerors came into contact with the Incas in 1532.
       A fourth zone must be added to the above three: the coastal areas of Brazil, the entire territory of Argentina, Uruguay, and the southern part of Chile, where nomadic hunters lived in primitive tribal organisations. Those tribes never were subjected by the Portuguese and Spanish conquerors, and armed struggle against them lasted more than three centuries, notably in the case of the Araucans in Chile, who were finally defeated around 1870.
       Although the technological level of these indigenous civilizations was very low, their standard of social organisation was high, being capable of building gigantic irrigation works, roads, cities and cultivating food surpluses sufficient for feeding a huge non-labouring class.
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       As J. P. Cole stresses: "irrigation was practised in parts of Mexico, coastal Peru and Chile, and the Andes"..."towns of considerable size could be supported in all these areas"..."the technology was far behind that of contemporary Europe, China or even much of Africa. According to their physical conditions, agricultural communities depended heavily on one particular basic food: maize in Mexico, Central America, the Islands, parts of South America; roots, especially manioc, in Amazonia; and potatoes and other tubers in the Andes. Beans, cacao, groundnuts, tomatoes and many tropical fruits were also available, while cotton was used as a fibre, maguey in Mexico as a beverage, tobacco for smoking, and the coca leaf in the Andes as a special luxury for the privileged, later to be greatly abused in the colonial period. The only important domesticated animals were the dog which was widespread, the turkey in Mexico, and the llama and alpaca in the Andes. The llama was easily tamed and widely used for carrying goods, for its wool, its dung and on occasions its meat. Animals were not used for draught purposes, either for ploughing or transport, the wheel not being in use; outside the Andean region all goods were conveyed by humans, and this greatly limited the distance over which most goods could be carried. The waterways were hardly used for transport in the civilised areas, and coastal navigation was very limited"..."One great weakness of the Amerindians was their failure to develop metal goods, though bronze was made and silver and gold ornaments were widely produced. Without metal tools stone could only be shaped by harder stone and wood could only be worked with difficulty. The Andes of Peru and Bolivia were almost treeless anyway. The arms that were in use when the Europeans came were quite inadequate against the crossbow, musket, and armour of the Spaniards, while the horse gave the Spaniards great mobility and the trained hunting dog
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was also used against the Indians during the decade of the conquest."(21)
       One hundred years after the first contact between indigenous societies and the Luso-Spanish conquerors -around 1600- the colonial system assumed a definitive shape, of which the former Aztec, Maya and Inca Empires formed the core of the economic activities.
       I will thus concentrate on the description of these particular amerindian societies.


       The Maya people's development spans from c. 2000 B.C. to 1467-1482 A.D., when great hurricanes destroyed cities, houses and people, and the yellow fever decimated the population, which abandoned whole areas. Even so, the Spanish conquerors had to fight for 15 years -from 1527 to 1542- to defeat the Maya armies. From 1250 onwards, the Mayas spread into Mexico and their canoes traded from Tampico to Panama. For Maya civilisation this was the age of metals: gold, copper, silver. The great period of Maya trade expansion was from 1300 to 1440.
       In this period money -in the form of cacao beans- appeared in order to facilitate trade. The Spanish catholic bishop Diego de Landa, who accompanied the white warriors in their war of conquest wrote: "cacao was the gold of this country...and it serves for money in the plaza...of Chichen Itza"..."A rabbit was worth ten cacao beans, a pumpkin four, a slave one hundred (the amount of cacao that would make about twenty-five cups of chocolate)..."..."Maya public women, always around the markets...gave their bodies for a price...
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he who wants them for his lustful use can have a run for eight or ten cacao beans...". (22)
       The trade appears quite impressive if we think on some isolated figures. For instance post-hispanic tribute lists record that twenty-six villages in the Maya province of Mani paid an annual tribute of 13,480 cotton mantas, each 16 yards long by 24 inches wide. This was 215,680 yards of cotton fabric from this small area alone!". (23)
       The Maya had a well-defined social structure, which was mirrored in the way they built their huge cities: in the middle of the town were temples surrounded by big plazas; around this religious centre were the houses of   the lords and priests, and then came the houses of the most important officials. In a third circle were the homes of  the rich men. Fourth, the houses of the merchants...and at the outskirts of the town were the houses of the direct-labourers (artisans and tillers).
       There is no direct evidence concerning the form of government and social organisation of  Maya society, mainly because the Spaniard catholic priests who accompanied the conquerors destroyed all  Maya books and historical records which were kept in the temples. Nevertheless, it can be accurately stated that Maya society was composed of a noble class, from which all the office-holders were selected, and at the bottom, the mass of the people, along with a multitude of slaves mainly used for heavy manual labour such as fishermen, paddlers, and cargo carriers. Women slaves had to help in tasks such as drawing water, grinding maize, and dyeing cloth.
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      It is almost certain that the community was organised into clans, and that each member of such a clan was part of an earth cell. The direct labourers paid taxes -either as a  portion  of  the crops, or through the cultivation of the fields in the form of  labour tax. Judging by the size of  the plots the direct labourers were assigned by the priests -four hundred square feet- it can be said that the main form of tribute was labour tax performed in noble's and priest's land. (24)
       To summarize: The Mayas regarded land as a communal property, administered by the state. Appropriation of surplus-labour by non-labourers took the form of taxes in kind or in labour. Thus, non-labourers appeared as a component part of a collective expropriator of surplus-labour: the state. At the same time, communal organisation was still partly based on kinship relations -for instance, the noble class in the Maya city-state was known by the name of  "those who have father and mother", a clear reference to kinship.
       If we refer to Godelier's concept that "the very essence of the Asiatic mode of production is the existence of  primitive COMMUNITIES in which ownership of  land is comunal and which are still partly organised on the basis of kinship relations, combined with the existence of  State power, which expresses the real or imaginary UNITY of  these communities, CONTROLS the use of essential economic resources and DIRECTLY APPROPRIATES part of  the labour and production of the communities which it dominates" (25), it could be said that Maya society was based on the Asiatic mode of production.
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       Furthermore, in Maya society there was a clear exploitation of man by man, and appearance of  an exploiting class without the existence of private ownership of  land. It is also possible to conclude that the Maya's dominant class -composed mainly of nobles and priests- developed  from a minority who performed a specific social function during the existence of clan communities. That is, the warriors who defended the community from the predatory expeditions of other communities, and priests who interceded between the farmers and the gods in order to raise better crops -especially through the use of astronomical observations and the empirical study of water resources. The gradual transformation of this social function -performed by a social minority- into an exploitative function, led the classless communities towards a form of class society without private ownership of land. The emergent dominant class thus played the role of a collective exploiter, guardian and protector of the community through the use of  the state.
       (Modern versions of this form of class society without private ownership of means of production (land among them), are the bureaucratic socialist systems (Soviet Union, People's Republic of China, etc.) where also we have the emergent dominant class (whose core is the membership of the communist parties) playing the role of a collective exploiter, guardian and protector of the community through the use of  the state).
       "In the Asiatic mode of production, the State is the owner of the land, inasmuch as it personifies all the communities, and the exploitation of the peasants is collective. The dependence of the individual in relation to a State official is indirect and is mediated by the relationship of dependence of his community of origin to the State which the official represents" (26). In Maya society, all the officials were members of  the noble class, and the priests were part of the State personified in the HALACH UINIC, who was "father and lord (god)" at the same time.
       We thus find in Maya society "the combination of communal relations of production with embryonic forms of  the exploiting classes and of the State" (Godelier), which constitutes a form of transition from
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classless to class society, but, in an early stage in the Maya case.


Aztec history began rather late, when migratory tribes enter the valley of Anahuac in 1168 A.D. In 1486 there was evidence of Aztec merchants trading in Honduras and Nicaragua, and military conquests stretching into the Pacific coast of  Guatemala. "The community, not the individual, owned the land"..."An Indian was born into a clan or calpulli. A calpulli was a group of families forming a clan which owned certain lands communally. A married man was lent his piece of land directly from the clan. No one had title to the land he worked, he was allowed only the produce of it"..."The Aztec clan system was not as rigid as the Peruvian system of  the ayllu, which was over-organized"...But, "the calpulli, moved as a social unit"... "Taxes were paid in service"..."The tribal council divided the land among the clans and the leaders of each in turn apportioned its share among the heads of   families justly and equitably". (27)
       At the time of the Spanish conquest a distinctive social stratification existed comprising two major sets: those who were taxpayers and those who were not.
       The taxpayers were the actual labourers, whose surplus-labour was capable of sustaining the entire state apparatus, the king's family, the nobility, the soldiers, the priests and a particular social sector, the merchants, who had the status of state officials, and were traders (pochtecas) who had their own guilds, their own gods, and were above
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the laws that applied to the vast majority. Commerce was exclusively the preserve of the state.
       Below the direct labourers were the mayeques (labourers from the defeated peoples) and the slaves who were the private property of their lords.
       Non-taxpayers formed the ruling class, or nobility, composed of four main groups:
1) The supreme chiefs and their sons.
2) The chief-soldiers in the service of the supreme chiefs.
3) The local administrators of communities.
4) The priests.
       Taxpayers were members of the calpulli, who did the actual work, and were divided into peasants, artists and artisans. The direct labourers were "free workers", in the sense that the expropriation of  their surplus-labour took the form of taxes to the state, and not compulsive plunder. Nobility, in compensation for the services given to the supreme chief-state, were allotted land, personal services and part of the tribute in kind paid by the peasants and artisans. The artists and artisan's tribute took the form of  labour put at the service of the priestly stratum.(28)
Aztec society similarly exhibited the basic features of the Asiatic mode of production: "the State and the dominant class intervene directly in the conditions of   production; in the organisation of major projects, the correspondence between productive forces and relations of production is made direct"..."the special advantages accruing to this minority, nominally as a result of services rendered to the communities, become obligations with no counterpart, i.e., exploitation. The land of these communities is often expropriated to become the ultimate property
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of the king, who personifies the higher community. We therefore have exploitation of man by man, and the appearance of an exploiting class without the existence of private ownership of the land." (29)
       As compared with the Mayas, the Aztecs were at a more advanced stage of subdivision of  the land, appearing as a probable trend in the development of the nobility's land being transformed into private ownership, in a transition to a feudal mode of production. (30)


       The first recorded lord-Inca was in 1100 A.D., with a city-state organisation in Cuzco. By 1480, the Inca army was building roads leading into Chile, preparatory to conquest. By 1492 an area of Chile was conquered to the Maule river. In 1498, the Incas extended the conquest beyond Quito into Colombia, and completed the Andean road from Quito to Talca (Chile), a distance of  3,250 miles. In 1527 the Spanish conquerors arrived in Peru, and in 1533 they assassinated the lord-Inca Atahualpa. The most outstanding social organisation of labour in the New World thus fell instact into Spanish hands.
       Lord-Inca was the supreme chief of the State and the human incarnation of god (the Sun) on the earth. As such, he was the supreme civil, religious and military chief. The empire was divided into four provinces (suyu), which were named after cardinal points with their centre of reference in Cuzco, the capital of   the empire. Four roads left Cuzco, each going to the farthest points of each province: Anti-suyu (east), which included the jungle and high mountains, was harassed by attacks from the only partially pacified tribes of  the area; Conti-suyu (west), embraced the conquered coastal former empires from the now Lima Valley to Arequipa in the south; Colla-suyu (south), was
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the largest province, composed of southern andean Peru, lake Titicaca, and regions in Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina; Chincha-suyu (north), comprised all the land and tribes which lay to the north, up to the Anscamayo River in Colombia. Each suyu was governed by a capac, who was a relative of  the Inca. The four capac formed the supreme council of   the State (of the Inca). The suyu was divided into ten districts, each of them having over ten thousand workers, under a homo-curaca (district-governor). Each district was composed of many villages -tribal villages- and each village comprised a number of clans, headed by patrilineal families, named ayllu. The ayllu was the basic social unit, ruled by an elected leader and guided by a council of old men. (31)
       The economic organisation was so tight, that all manual work was assigned by the local authorities as representatives of  the State. In turn the political organisation reflected the economic pattern. At the base of   this pyramid was the able-bodied male worker, named a puric, literally, an able-bodied, taxpaying peasant. Ten puric were controlled by a "straw boss" (conka-camayoc in quechua); ten of  these basic groups had a foreman (pacha-curaca); ten foremen were ruled by a supervisor, ideally the headman of a large village (mallcu); and ten mallcu had a district-governor (homo-curaca), who was actually the chief of the tribe. Inca officials informed the Spaniards that each tribe normally included ten thousand puric, or male workers (32). Ten homo-curaca were ruled by a provincial governor. And the four province governors were controlled by the lord-Inca.
       Alongside this decimal-shaped pyramidal pattern, the puric were classified by age, in order to assign suitable manual work to them. This immense task of organisation and supervision was carried out by
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a huge bureaucracy. According to Inca's records, there were 1,333 officials for every 10,000 people. That is, 13.33% of the population was a member of  the bureaucracy! (33)
       As mentioned previously, the basic social unit was the ayllu, which had a definite territory and those living within its boundaries received "loans" of  land to sustain themselves and their families. There was no individual ownership of the land.
       It is clear cut that the Inca state was not only the regulator, protector, administrator and direct manager of  the social productive life of the society. It was, at the same time, a compulsive apparatus to oblige every able-bodied labourer to produce to the best of his/her ability.
       The communal organisation of  the clan, the ayllu, was the basic structural unit of  this compulsive system of production in which surplus-labour was appropriated by the "protectors", the men who had the social function of organising the defence, production and enlargement of  Inca society. These men occupied the State and the bureaucracy -in other words, the Inca nobility, both civil and religious. For the common men and women in Inca society, the ayllu was the earth-cell where they were born, reared, and buried. There was no escape from it. The ayllu gave them security, but the price of this was absorption into the State.
       The social structure based on this particular form of   labour organisation produced a society divided into two distinct strata: taxpaying and non-taxpaying. The latter group formed the ruling class. Within this stratum, there were two levels of rulers: the Incas and the Incas "by privilege" (the curacas). The Incas had their own ayllu, and the most important officials, administrators, officers and priests
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were drawn from this. The Inca ayllu had their territorial base in the capital city, Cuzco. They formed the high nobility physically differentiated from common people and lower nobility by their pierced ears.
       The lower nobility, Incas "by privilege", who were called curacas, were chosen from the upper strata of  non-Inca ayllu, and from the chiefs of defeated peoples. At the same time, the members of the Inca bodyguards -about 10,000 in number- formed part of  this lower nobility. They were the only professional army in the empire, and served as cadres for the agrarian militia.
The ruling class was thus a civil, military, and religious bureaucracy, which administered every detail of the system of production, having the right to appropriate the collective surplus-labour produced by the direct-labourers.
       The peasantry performed labour-service in various forms: agriculture work, artisan work, and military service.
       When the Spanish arrived, this system of production was in a process of evolution towards an increasing utilisation of a particular form of individual labour.
       Individual labourers no longer attached to their ayllu, were called YANACONAS. They probably came initially from the ranks of   prisoners of war and criminals, but eventually they were farmers taken from their ayllu, to serve noble families tilling the land of the priests and high nobles. As Metraux accurately observes:
"The increasingly important part played by the YANACONAS under the empire is only to be explained on the grounds that their efficiency was superior to that obtained by the traditional system of forced
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labour. By depriving them of some of their members, the Inca weakened the communities and initiated a revolution which, had it continued, might well have changed the structure of   the empire. It would have tended to become, instead of a grouping of largely autonomous rural collectives, a kind of 'pre-feudal empire' in which nobles and officials would have owned great estates worked by serfs or even slaves." (34)
       We thus appear to have a transitional process of   labour moving from a collective dependence to a personal dependence, as estates belonging to the Inca and his ayllu increasingly became the personal property of  the nobles of the empire. This phenomenon is extremely important for understanding the evolution set in motion by the collision between Iberian and American indigenous societies in the XVI century.
       As has been previously mentioned, the mainstay of   the colonial system of  production was built on the territories that formerly belonged to the Aztec, Maya and Inca societies. Of these three, two -the Aztec and the Inca- played a major role in the early stages of colonial production. Thus, the features of  those two societies had considerable importance on whatever appeared afterwards as new features of a novel organisation of labour in the colony.
       We have seen that both Aztec and Inca systems of production had the common characteristic of  being based upon a collective ownership of the land, a strong State apparatus, and in a period of transition from a classless to class society, with a mode of distribution of surplus- labour determined by the existence of antagonistic social classes, each separately grouping non-labourers and direct labourers. These societies were thus based on a specific mode of production which we can loosely term as "asiatic mode of production". The most important
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finding, as far as the analysis here is concerned, however, is that both Aztec and Inca societies were at a stage of development in which some forms of  the tendency towards a private ownership of the land and/or to personal dependence were appaearing, weakening the collective system of production. Consequently, the Spaniards and Portuguese arrived on the continent at the moment when Aztec and Inca labour organisation was in a process of dissolution. This organisation was no longer capable of supporting the needs of   increased production, triggered by the development of commerce in the Aztec case, and by the needs of the ruling class in the Inca case.
       The organisation of labour based upon collective dependence had reached its maximum capacity in the region and was in the initial stage of a process of disintegration. At this particular stage, the Spanish entered, and tried to base the entire colonial system of plunder of surplus-labour upon a collective organization of direct labourers in the encomienda system. The conquerors and colonisers thus pushed forward the process of disintegration, since they increased the amount of surplus-labour required from the indigeneous communities, and further weakened their provision of manpower, by diverting indian labourers from farming into mining. Consequently this system was ultimately bound to disintegrate, and there was a need to find a more suitable organisation of labour - this led to the creation of the hacienda.
To summarize, we can see from the above that the process of decline of  the indigeneous system of production was another important factor in the process by which merchant's capital, together with Absolutism as a stage in the dissolution of the western feudal mode of production, played an important role in necessitating a new form of labour organisation.
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        Before going on to examine this process in greater detail in the next chapter of  this first Section, we need to outline the other actor in the collision: the Iberian society in the XIV-XV centuries.


        Seigneural Castile and Aragon were the two kingdoms upon which the Spanish Absolutist State was built. In the same year that Columbus invaded the New World (1492), the royal armies of Castile and Aragon defeated the last moorish stronghold in the Iberian peninsula and submitted the moorish peasants to serfdom and/or slavery.
         Therefore, the first decades of conquest and colonisation in  the New World coincided with the stabilisation of property and the rise of the Castilian and Aragonese aristocracy. The social structure in  the Peninsula was distinctly feudal, as Vives describes it:
         "More than 80% of  the total Spanish population were peasants.  Urban workers, including Jews, conversos, and so on, amounted to 10  or 12% before the expulsion. The urban middle class, counting citizens, merchants, and ecclesiastics, made up some 3 to 5%. And finally the nobles, taking together the aristocracy of  both Castile and Aragon, represented less than 2%, divided into 5,000 magnates (dukes, counts, barons, etc.), 60,000 knights, hidalgos, and so on, and 60,000 urban patricians, or aristocrats of the cities. These 125,000 individuals were at the summit of the social scale and controlled the country from above" (35)
          The nobles owned 97% of the land, of which, "45% belonged to bishopries, high ecclesiastics, cathedral, chapters, canonries, the urban aristocracy, and the knights. The rest belonged to the grandees and formed true latifundia" ..."the remaining 3% had to be shared by
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some 4 or 5 million Castilians" and Aragoneses. (36). The new monarchy thus ruled the country in a sort of partnership with the aristocratic class. The nobility, the church and the crown shared the appropriation of  the surplus labour, both domestic and Spanish American taking around one third each. The most important military, diplomatic, religious and administrative positions were always held by the grandees, and the nobility and clergy were exempted from taxation. Even in the XVII century, the Crown extended seigneurial jurisdictions to the nobility, which one hundred years previously had granted the immobilisation of rural property through the device of  the mayorazgo.
         In the towns, by establishing a constricting guild system, the crown weakened the development of a nascent urban industry. Conversely, it protected southern latifundists, granting wide privileges to the pastoral interests of  the aristocratic wool cartel in the countryside, (the Mesta), leading to a disastrous waste of  land, economic crisis, widespread unemployment, and heavy feudal rents on seigneural lands.
         Anderson aptly defines the new Spanish monarchy in saying that  "no other major Absolutist State in Western Europe was to be so  finally noble in character, or so inimical to bourgeois development.  The very fortune of its early control of  the mines of America, with  their primitive but lucrative economy of extraction, disinclined it  to promote the growth of manufactures or foster the spread of mercantile enterprise within its European empire"... "The Castilian State machine was rationalised and modernised, but the new monarchy never counterposed it to the aristocratic class as a whole" ..."More significant ,  however, was the fact that the Spanish monarchy's most fundamental victory over corporate resistance to royal absolutism in Castile -  indeed its only actual armed contest with any opposition in that  realm- was the military defeat of the towns (the comunero revolt
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of 1520-1), rather than nobles. Nowhere else in Western Europe was this true of   nascent absolutism: the primary pattern was the suppression of aristocratic rather than burgher revolts, even where the two were closely mingled. Its triumph over the Castilian communes, at the outset of its career, was to separate the course of the Spanish monarchy from its Western Counterparts thereafter" (37)
        Thus, the Spanish Absolutist State appeared to be the most feudal state in Western Europe. As such it administered its colonial empire in the New World. The mercantilist economy, common to all Absolutist State, took a particular form under the Spanish Crown: gold and silver flowed from the Americas in such amounts, permitting an aggressive Spanish foreign policy based on a permanent troop mobilisation throughout Europe. Gold and silver from the Americas financed most of the making of  the Hapsburg empire in Europe, since these metals provided monetary wealth in a mercantilist world -or at least European- economy. Monetary wealth of   this order meant that the Spanish monarchy became  capable of  financing huge armies without burdening the ruling class with more taxation. In other words without the danger of opposition  to that ruling class, and, most importantly, without the necessity  to develop the production of commodities to cope with the State's need  for more revenue. This thereby granted the feudal aristocracy a  longer span of life.
         Consequently, in Spain and Portugal, due to the existence of its colonial empire, the dissolving effects of  merchant capital's domination  in the western feudal mode of production  were delayed. On the other  hand, these absolutist monarchies depended on the inflow of gold and silver. Hence there was a constant pressure on Iberoamerican colonialists to plunder more precious metals. As a result of this, there was
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constant pressure on Amerindian labourers to move from agriculture to mining. In turn, the communal system of production in Ibero America, already in an early process of disintegration in the eve of the Ibero conquest, suffered an added stress, tending to collapse. From this, the decadence of  the encomienda system, which eventually became a transitional organisation of  labour between indigenous communal production, submitted to tribute by the conquerors, and the hacienda system. With this event, the mode of appropriation of surplus-labour in the colonies underwent a fundamental change, which meant that the mode of production dominant there changed, as I shall elaborate in the next chapter. (38)
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First Section
Chapter One

1) Sergio Bagu, "Economia de la Sociedad Colonial", Buenos Aires, 1950, pp. 39-68.

2) Karl Marx, "Capital", Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1977, Vol. III, pp. 326-328.

3) Ibid., Chapter XX: "Historical facts about merchant's capital", pp. 323-337.
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4) Ibid., pp. 331-332. It is evident that by the "modern world", Marx refers to Western Europe, where merchant's capital domination actually did result in the capitalist mode of production. Giving to those words a general meaning as referring to anywhere in the world would be to misunderstand the main tenets of Marx's theory developed in CAPITAL. The most fundamental idea from the above quotation is that the process of dissolution started by the domination of merchant's capital do not lead necessarily to one and the same type of mode of production, but to different modes of production depending upon the socio-economic structures present in the social formations penetrated by merchant's capital, and the stage of development of those social formations.

5) Harry Magdoff, "Imperialism: A Historical Survey", in MONTHLY REVIEW, May 1972, p. 8.

6) " the same time dominance of artillery and musketry, both on the high seas and on the battlefield, meant closer links between military power and manufacturing potential" ( "The Fontana Economic History of Europe", Collins, London, 1974, Vol. 2, p. 8 )

7) H. A. L. Fisher, "A History of Europe", Edward Arnold and Co., London, 1974, pp. 320-321.

8) Ibid., pp. 314-315.

9) Ibid., p. 333.

10) Perry Anderson, "Lineages of the Absolutist State", NLB, London, 1974, p. 8.

11) Ibid., pp. 20, 23, 24.

12) Ibid., p. 17.

13) K. Marx,"Capital", Vol. III, p.797.

14) F. Engels, "Anti-Duhring", Progress Publisher, Moscow, 1947, p. 126.

15) P. Anderson, op. cit., p. 57.

16) That both were factors within a transitional period from one mode of production to another does not matter here, because in the New World there were different modes of production from those in Western Europe. Thus, the most important feature was that merchant's capital and Absolutism tried to impose on the New World the social relations of production that were dominant at that time in Western Europe, and not the social relations of production of a mode of production still not totally developed.

17) Solon Barraclough, "The Agrarian Problem", in LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN. A HANDBOOK, by Claudio Veliz, A. Blond, London, 1968, pp. 487-488.
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18) Victor Wolfgang von Hagen, "The Ancient Sun kingdoms of the Americas", Paladin, Herts., England, 1917, pp. 76-77-80.

19) See Henri Lehmann, "Les civilisations precolmbiennes", Presses Universitaires de France, 1961, Paris, p. 101.

20) Von Hagen, op. cit., p. 309.

21) J. P. Cole, "Latin America. An Economic and Social Geography", Butterworths, London, 1965, pp. 73-74.

22) As quoted by Von Hagen, op. cit. p. 156.

23) Von Hagen, op. cit. p. 155.

24) "The lower man is convinced that the gods are the owners of the land and that the priests in parcelling it out are acting on behalf of the gods. The various clans are allotted areas of land by the temple-city councillors (among the Aztecs actual maps drawn on amatl paper gave the rebus names of the owners)... Among the Mayas, each family was assigned a piece of land of four hundred square feet, a hun uinic, measured with a twenty-foot measuring tape. We are ignorant of further details. Whether the land was held in trust by the ruler, as among the Incas, and was returned to the clan on the decease of the user to be reallotted, or whether it belonged to the calpulli, as among the Aztecs, we just do not know -at least no more than Diego de Landa, who says, '...each married man with his wife... sow a space four hundred square feet...which they call a hun uinic, measured with a rod of twenty feet'...(Von Hagen, op. cit. p. 138)
Maya society was composed of a federation of city-states, as in Greece. Around A.D. 800 there were more than three million Mayas in this type of society. Maize growers, they paid taxes in the form of labour in time of peace, and as soldiers in time of war.
At the head of the Maya city-state stood a chief, called a halach uinic (the "real man", the "true man"). Even when the office was heriditary, it seems like he was not an Absolutist monarch: there existed a state council composed of nobles and priests who advised the halach uinic in his tasks of direct domestic and foreign policy, and collecting tribute, and in selecting batab, or direct village chiefs, who were in charge of local government, local collecting of tribute and the local command of the army. The batab did not collect taxes for himslef, but the community had to house, feed and sustain him and his family, along with the local military chiefs (nacom), and the police corps (tupiles).
It seems that the totality of the land of the city-state belonged to the community, but was administered by the halach uinic, who allotted land to the nobility and the priests, and the latter distributed part of this land between the direct labourers for their subsistence tilling. So, the direct labourers had
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to till their four hundred square feet plot, priests' fields and nobles' fields, and halach uinic's fields.
The direct labourers were the tax-paying citizens. The taxes took the form of labour, military services, and in some cases part of the crops.
In addition to the landed non-tax paying citizens -the non-labourers, composed of the halach uinic and his family, the nobles and priests- there were the merchants, called ppolms, who constituted an estament with their own god and had special social privileges. They operated canoe fleets and maintained warehouses for exchange along the Gulf coast and the interior of the country.
The lowest social stratum was the slaves, who generally were prisoners of war or convicts. They were treated as commodities.

25) Maurice Godelier, "The concept of the Asiatic mode of production and Marxist models of social evolution", included in "Relations of Production. Marxist approaches to economic historiography", David Seddon (ed.), Frank Cass, 1978, p. 212.

26) Ibid., p. 229.

27) Von Hagen, op. cit. pp. 36-46
Added to this, the members of the clan had to pay tribute-tax in the form of levies of manpower for public buildings and collective work in the fields of the Aztec king. Every six months, 371 vassal cities yielded tribute of products to the Aztec capital (Ciudad de Mexico), Tenochtitlan.
"Members of the clan assisted one another, and when a farmer-warrior was away to the wars, his fields were cultivated by others of his clan". The Aztec empire traded extensively but it did not utilise money, only barter. The trade of slaves -both men and women- was common. (Ibid., p. 46)
At the apex of society was "One Who Speaks", the ruler of the Aztec, who was elected from amongst the nobles. Once elected, this "king" became a semidivinity. He was high priest, supreme commander of the army, and head of state but advised by a council. At the bottom of the social pyramid were the farmers, the only tax-paying citizens, and below them, the slaves. The economy was supported by farm labour, not slave work.
Although land was communally owned, its distribution for State requirements was based on an eight point ranking:
1) Tlatocatlalli. This is, "One Who Speaks"' (tlatoani) land. King's land. Its product sustained the expenses of central government.
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2) Tecpontalli. Local government's land.
3) Tecuhtlalli. Land allotted for the chief of the basic administrative unit of the empire, the tecuhtli. That is, a quarter.
4) Tecpillali. Plots assigned to each member of the "traditional nobility". That is, to chiefs of tribes and nobility of the subjected peoples.
5) Teotlalli, or god's land. Its product was owned by the priests.
6) Pillali, or warrior's land. Its product was owned by outstanding soldiers. The plots were cultivated by labourers defeated in war. The latter were named mayeques, and they gave a tribute in kind and labour to these lords.
7) Yaotlalli or war's land. For the local warriors.
8) Calpullali, or quarter's land. These were the real Mexican community lands. Their products were directly consumed by the direct labourers. (Rene Barbosa-Ramirez, "La estructura economica de la Nueva Espana 1519-1810), Siglo XXI, Mexico, 1971, p. 22)
Thus, the land was divided into eight plots, of which six were cultivated by the peasants for labour tax, one by the peasants of defeated peoples as an added labour tribute, and one for the subsistence and reproduction of the direct labourers themselves.
The lands of the defeated peoples were sub-divided by the Aztecs. The most fertile were cultivated as a labour tribute for the king's palace, officials, Aztec towns, schools, temples and old people without relatives. The poorer quality land was left in the hands of the defeated community, which had to pay tribute in kind to the Aztec state.
The annual tribute collected by Aztecs was about 7,000 tons of maize, 5,000 of beans, 250,000 cotton blankets, beside jewels, shields for soldiers and so on. See Rene Barbosa-Ramirez, op. cit., p. 115.

28) See W. Borah and E. Simpson, "Population of Central Mexico in 1548", Berkeley, USA, 1970. A. de Zorita, "Breve y sumaria relacion de los senores y maneras y diferencias que habia de ellos en Nueva Espana (mid-XVI centurty), included in "Documentos de America y Oceania", Madrid, 1865, Vol II, pp. 26-34.

29) M. Godelier, op. cit., pp. 240-241-242.

30) See F. Peterson, "Le Mexique pre colombienne", Payot, Paris, 1961, p. 217.
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31) "The ayllu was the basic social unit. It has been defined as a sort of clan, a group of extended families living together in a restricted area with a common sharing of land, animals, and crops. Everyone belonged to an ayllu; and Indian was born into it. This commune could be large or small, extending itself into a village or a large centre or even into a complex city; for even Cuzco, the capital, was itself only an aggrandized ayllu (Inca's clan. R.R.). This social organisation must be emphasised for the entire structure of the Inca society is based on it." (Von Hagen, op. cit., p. 243)

32) This decimal administrative organisation of labour was only a reference guide at the level of district. Certainly, there were far more than 100,000 able-bodied workers in each suyu, if we consider the size of the armies the Inca used in wars of conquest. For instance, in 1498, the Inca Huayna Capac set out for the conquest of Quito with 300,000 soldiers. As the armies were composed of farmers paying tax in military service, such figures meant that the able-bodied male workers in the four suyu might number around 1,000,000, only possibility not disrupting production with the wars of conquest. This las figure coincides with population estimates from 4 to 7 million inhabitants in the empire, made by western scholars. See Edward S. Hyams and George Ordish, "The Last of the Incas; the rise and fall of an American empire", Simon and Schuster, New York, 1963.

33) Ce sont egalement les autorites locales qui distribuaient les travauz manuels aux divers elements de la population. A chacun etait assignee una tache precise: auxs uns revenaient les travaux des champs, aux autres la contruction des terrasses; certains etaient affectes a l'entretien des routes, ou a la chasse aux oiseaux...pour faciliter cette conscription civile, les hommes etaient recenses par classes d'age. Dans la Province de Pacaxe par example, it y avait six classes: la premiere comprenait les enfants entre cinq et dix ans, la seconde les adolescents entre dix et vingt; la troisieme comportait les hommes entre vingt et vingt-cinq, la quatrieme entre vingt-     cinq et trente, la cinquieme entre trente et cinquante; dans  la sixieme se trouvaient tous ceux qui avaient depasse la cinquantaine. Tous les hommes employes dans les entreprises publiques etaient, eux et leurs familles, entretenus par l'Etat. Etaient egalment entretenus par l'Etat les familles dont le  chef etait  au armees"... "Le service militaire etait obligatoire et on estime d'un dixieme de la population etait constamment sous les drapeauxf'. (Henri Lehmann, op. cit. pp.100-101.)
      "Once a year, every autumn, the communal   lands of the ayllu were divided among the members of  the commune. Each couple united  by marriage was given by the headman of the village, who presided over it, a topo of land, roughly 300 by 150 feet. The distribution of land was based on the amounts of mouths to feed; those  with larger families were given an increased acreage for each child. After the division, each family was responsible for  ts own particular piece of land"..."The communal land of
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the ayllu was divided thus: first for the people, then for the Inca (that is the State), and thirdly for the Sun religion {call it tithes). Those two parts of the land for state and religion were tilled communally and harvested communally as part of the labour tax". (Von Hagen, op. cit. p.244).
The other part of the labour tax was the mita, being the puric's obligation to provide a certain amount of work for the state, mainly in road building, bridge building, terracing and irrigation of fields, mining, and the erection of temples, forts and nobility residences. Accurate records of work service for each community were kept on a knotted string, the quipu, since this was the only way a non-literate people could maintain files.
In addition to work service, every puric formed part of an agrarian militia and was liable to military service at any given moment. During his absence in a military campaign other members of the ayllu cultivated and harvested his allotment of land.
The fields were worked in the following order: firstly the fields of the Inca (state), then the Sun, followed by their own plots, they then turned to those plots of kinsmen who were serving in the army, and finally to those of the sick and the halt.
Every aspect of work in Inca society was supervised and directed by specialists. They were called the "professionals" of the Inca (the State) , the most important were "agronomists" and "architects" , responsible for a wide range of plant domestication, the giant stone works in terracing, irrigation and building, and roads and bridge construction.
Inca society built more than lO,OOO miles of all-weather roads, which crossed desert, jungle, and mountain across hundreds of bridges, either of wood, or stone, or with cable suspension. Distance markers were used every 4.5 miles, rest stations for travelers were placed along the main roads every 12 to 18 miles. All this was built by the farmers through labour tax in the form of mita.
The produce of the communally cultivated lands was stored in granaries. When the Spanish conquerors arrived they found the State granaries stocked with maize, quinoa, chuńo (dehydrated potatoes reduced to a light flour), charqui (dried llama meat), fish, cords, hemp, wool, cotton, sandals, and military arms -all stored in hampers and in appropriate warehouses for each item. Commerce was a government monopoly.
The State used the market places to inform the people of the Inca's new rules or demands. There were three fairs every month in every village whose purposes were to trade and to "hear anything that the Inca or his council might have ordained" . The labourers brought weavings, bowls, carvings, potatoes, chuńo, corn, charqui, to those markets to exchange them. Since the Inca State levied no property taxes, but only mita labour service, they were thus free to exchange all moveable property.
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Nevertheless, every aspect of social and individual life in Inca society was regulated by the State. Since the Inca (The State) was both god and ruler, any crime against the social and economic order was both legal disobedience and sacrilege. Hence the punishment was severe: death. Hanging, stoning or pushing over a cliff were the methods of execution. Two crimes were especially punished: stealing public property and laziness.
Anyone breaking into the Inca's storage chambers, destroying bridges, or entering the precincts of the Chosen Women -young peasant women dedicated to the cult of the Sun and to be concubines of the Inca and his relatives -was eliminated. Laziness was a crime against the system of production, because it deprived the Inca of the Indian's services; here the first punishment was public rebuke, or if reincidence occurred, death.
"Professionals" were selected from the rank and file peasantry and were then trained and paid by the state, but it seems they did not lose their status as taxpaying citizens.
"Under the guidance of the Inca's 'professionals', the whole of the realm -which included Andes, desert, and Upper Amazon -became a great centre of plant domestication. More than half of the foods that the world eats today were developed by these Andean farmers; it has been estimated that more kinds of food and medicinal plants were systematically cultivated here than in any other sizeable area of the world: one has only to mention the obvious: maize (twenty varieties); potatoes (240 varieties); sweet potatoes, squash, beans of infinite varieties; manioc (from which came our farina and tapioca); peanuts, cashews, pineapples, chocolate, avocados, tomatoes, peppers, papaya. mulberries".... "Under Inca rule, terracing of  the Andean valleys was systematic, a method of soil preservation and soil creation. In the greater projects, those, for example, of Pisac -where the terraces stand poised over the heights of the upper Urubamba River -or at Ollantaytambo (where the workers cut into the living rock), profe$sional architects were sent out from Cuzco to plan them. It was an enormous expenditure of labour. That these terraces still stand after five centuries is sufficient testimony to the  skill of these Inca engineers". (Von Hagen, op. cit. pp. 248-250-251.)
 This specialisation of Indian labour brought forth the possibility to achieve great stone works and highly efficient methods of cultivation in a society with no written language, not utilization of the wheel, and without metal tools. From the sociological point of view, the Indian labourer became less and less a "multipurpose" producer, and more and more a "specialized" part of a State machine of production. This feature did put the individual labourer in a position of increasing dependence on collective organisation, strengthening, in this way, State political power over the society.
Latin America: blockages to development                                                   272

34) A. Metraux, THE INCAS, Studio Vista BookS, London 1965. pp. 28-31. See also Henri Lehmann, op. cit. p.l02.

35) Jaime Vicens Vives, AN ECONOMIC HISTORY OF SPAIN, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1969, p.293.

36) Vives, op. cit. p. 292

37) P. Anderson, op. cit. p. 61-65-68

38) "The essential difference 'between the various economic forms of society, between for instance, a society based on slave-labour, and one based on wage-labour, lies only in the mode in which this surplus-labour is in each case extracted from the actual producer, the labourer". Marx, CAPITAL, Vol. II. p. 209.

FIRST SECTION                       CHAPTER TWO

1) In order to facilitate the analysis I will put aside in this Summary the collision between Luso-Spaniards conquerors and classless amerindian societies in the Antilles and coastal Brazil, which brought forth the decimation of native population and the utilisation of black slave labour as the main organisation of labour, with the plantation system as the main colonial enterprise. Both being particularities and not general pattern in the colonial Luso-Spaniard system as a whole.

2) Toribio de Benavente Motolinia, HISTORIA DE LOS INDIOS DE NUEVA ESPANA, Translated and edited by Elizabeth Anqros Foster, Berkeley, California, 1950, p.41.

3) There was no individual ownership of the land between the natives. So, it must be understood that when the Indians sold their land, what they did was sell the collective lands of a village.

4) See C.H. Haring, op. cit. Chapter III, and Leon Pinedo, TRATADO DE CONFIRMACIONES REALES, Madrid, 1630, chapters 8-10; and Jose Mario Ots Capdequi, INSTITUCIONES SOCIALES DE LA AMERICA ESPAŃOLA EN EL PERIODO COLONIAL, Ed. La Plata, Buenos Aires, 1934.

5) Francisco Tello de Sandoval, member of the Council of the Indies (the royal office to administrate the New World colonies), sent to America to enforce the New Laws, returned to Madrid with a report made in 1547 by the dominican Chapter, which said in part: "... there could be no permanence in the land without rich men, or rich men without encomiendas, because all industry was carried on by Indian Labour, and only those having Indians were able to carry on commerce"..."it was necessary to have rich men as a defence against enemies and

( Róbinson Rojas, "Latin America: Blockages to Development", PhD Dissertation, 1984).Pages 47-84 and 264-272