The Theory Of Property Essay Research Paper — страница 3

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at the expense of others. The fact that members of society have evolved from ignorant yet happy to complicated yet destructive has created a culture where ownership of property delineates between successful and unsuccessful. Wolf, on the other hand, develops his theory on property in a very different manner. To Wolf the progression from societies in which “property” was collectively owned by the corporate group to cultures where the individual accumulation and control of various types of commodities was sought after was a very non-linear evolution. He does not see stages of increased emphasis on private ownership but instead Wolf simply presents case studies of populations in which most often external influences have forced the move from general/public ownership to private

ownership. Unlike Morgan, Wolf does not refer to the various populations as an integrated whole with an internal logic and free from the impact of the world. The period of colonial expansion very much impacted on the various cultures being studied, and it is impossible to separate these relatively remote populations from the attempts of world domination by the superpowers of the time. To Wolf every society which exists concurrently exerts pressure on every other and whatever form any society ends up taking is just a result of how it was articulated in its period of history. Wolf believes that whether or not a society is prepared to be affected by a specific “germ” (i.e. iron smelting), it has relatively no choice. The effects this germ will have on the environment surrounding

the given society will directly influence how the culture must operate since it cannot function in a vacuum. Whether or not the institutions which are affecting the culture are forms of capitalist production, they will in the long run cause reverberating changes politically, militarily and socially. To Wolf the evolution in populations from propertyless to property-based is a series of starts, stops and jumps. The stress that he places on economics as the driving force in this transition can be studying by examining social pressures due to changing political policies of various societies. It is important to note, however, that no change can occur without there being ripple effects both to that same culture and to all surrounding populations. Wolf uses as his chief vehicle through

which he can describe his theory the fur trade with was introduced to the native American population by the Europeans in the early 17th century. As fur trade grew in popularity for numerous reasons, competition between populations grew as well. This affected not only the European traders but also every native American who provided them with fur. “The advent of the fur trade deranged accustomed social relations and cultural habits and prompted the formation of new responses-both internally…and externally.” (p.161) Wolf holds that the hegemonic idea concerning the structure of the capitalist mode of production forced an agenda on the native people of North America which pulled them into a basically capitalistic system in which they were pitted against each other and forced to

deal with the Europeans. In turn, this facilitated change in political, military and social relations. The dominant force of imperialism combined with the resources available allowed the Europeans to mold trade with the Amerindians into a profitable, while inconsiderate, business venture. In contrast to Morgan, who holds that both the availability and the definition of the value of objects evolve through time, Wolf is intrigued by the effects property has on every aspect of inter and intra socio-cultural relations. Not one area of a functioning population is untouched by the emergence of practices like the fur trade. In the earlier modes of production, based on kinship and tribute, ownership of property in the form of land begins to allow the owners to force workers to work for

them in order to sustain themselves. Much in the same way Morgan examines the phenomenon of increased amounts of technological advances due to past innovations, Wolf describes the method by which capitalism came into being. The increased need for wealth, in many ways though, is almost inconsequential to Wolf. For him wealth in the hands of holders of wealth is not capital until it controls the means of production, buys labor power and puts it to work. (p. 78) He states that the more money there was available to invest the more money was made to invest. This fact contributed to the rise in productivity worldwide and as a result the need for property increased as well. This increased need parallels the need examined extensively my Morgan but instead of being applied to further