I was going over the intro of Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy”, and I got into the part where he reviews the Manifesto, when it talks about the accomplishments of the bourgeoisie (it’s in a footnote). Then he points out the part where Marx and Engels say that the rural people live in idiocy, based on the following text:

“The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.“ (Marx and Engels, 1848 – bold added)

I think I remember, when I read it time ago in Spanish, and the meaning is kind of lost I would say, but I don’t think I paid too much attention at it, however this time got me thinking. Where they saying that people living in small towns are stupid?? I mean it’s a small thing, but almost any sentence from Marx one has to think about it a few times.

So I wrote a friend I met at Berkeley, and asked him about it. He gave such a good answer that I’m just going to dedicate it a post for it. I asked him for permission to upload part of his email.

He answered:

“(…) About the manifesto, it’s not that he thought rural people were stupid (although I think he had an urban bias) but rather that capitalism, through urbanization and industrialization processes developed humanity’s social nature to its greatest expression in history.  He was arguing that the specifically capitalist mode of production and the urban systems it produced brought people together and compelled them to interact in ways not possible in rural regions.  The type of interaction necessary in cities under capitalism allowed for the potential for human nature to develop, with progressive intellectual and cultural production, along with the development of science and technology, reaching heights not possible under feudal relations of agricultural production.  It’s not that rural people were inherently stupid, but rather that the comparatively atomistic lives they led, with arduous and extended labor taking place in relative isolation from a large and developed civil society, and under relations of indirect exploitation of the landlords, prevented them from engaging with a broader social world.  They objectively could not pursue their intellectual and social development to the same extent (with Marx here operating under the assumption that knowledge and the intellect are socially produced and thus require social cooperation and conflict to develop).

It goes without saying that he thought the particular organizational relations under which capitalism initiated this flowering of social development needed revolutionary change.  He thought of capitalism as a progressive force that allowed intellectual and scientific change to occur through direct social contact and thus a force shattering the isolating restrictions of rural life, one that objectively socialized world production and brought everything under a totalizing mode of production.  Unfortunately, this mode of production achieved this socialization through the privatization of ownership of the means of production and as such created the potential for full development only for those who became free from the shackles of direct labor, the capitalists themselves.  Even here, however, this conflict between capital and labor internalized the potential for revolutionary self emancipation of the working class through bringing workers together under the conditions of the factory system, which he saw as capitalism’s unique technological expression.  The concentration of workers allowed for the first time a widespread recognition of the conditions of exploitation of the underclass by the underclass itself and created the potential for revolution.

Whether he was right about the isolating effects of rural life under feudalism or the revolutionary effects of urban concentration under capitalism, it’s not really about ‘stupid’ rural people, but of the objective social conditions within which rural labor has to exist.

Hope this made sense and/or helps. (…)”

 

I’m really grateful for my friends.

I was going over Schumpeter’s “Capitalism, socialism, and democracy”, and I got into the part where he reviews the Manifesto, when it talks about the accomplishments of the bourgeoisie (it’s in a footnote). Then he points out the part where Marx and Engels say that the rural people live in idiocy.

 

“The bourgeoisie has subjected the country to the rule of the towns. It has created enormous cities, has greatly increased the urban population as compared with the rural, and has thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy of rural life.“

 

I think I remember, when I read it time ago, and I took it as it was in an quasi-ironic way, and did not pay too much attention at it, however this time got my thinking. What were they really trying to say? I mean it’s a small thing, but almost any sentence from Marx one has to think about it a few times.

 

So I wrote a friend I met at Berkeley, and asked him about it. He gave such a good answer that I’m just going to dedicate it a post for it.

 

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=6eM6YrMj46sC&dq=schumpeter+capitalism+socialism+democracy&q=idiocy#v=snippet&q=idiocy&f=false

 

 

He answered:

About the manifesto, it’s not that he thought rural people were stupid (although I think he had an urban bias) but rather that capitalism, through urbanization and industrialization processes developed humanity’s social nature to its greatest expression in history.  He was arguing that the specifically capitalist mode of production and the urban systems it produced brought people together and compelled them to interact in ways not possible in rural regions.  The type of interaction necessary in cities under capitalism allowed for the potential for human nature to develop, with progressive intellectual and cultural production, along with the development of science and technology, reaching heights not possible under feudal relations of agricultural production.  It’s not that rural people were inherently stupid, but rather that the comparatively atomistic lives they led, with arduous and extended labor taking place in relative isolation from a large and developed civil society, and under relations of indirect exploitation of the landlords, prevented them from engaging with a broader social world.  They objectively could not pursue their intellectual and social development to the same extent (with Marx here operating under the assumption that knowledge and the intellect are socially produced and thus require social cooperation and conflict to develop).

 

It goes without saying that he thought the particular organizational relations under which capitalism initiated this flowering of social development needed revolutionary change.  He thought of capitalism as a progressive force that allowed intellectual and scientific change to occur through direct social contact and thus a force shattering the isolating restrictions of rural life, one that objectively socialized world production and brought everything under a totalizing mode of production.  Unfortunately, this mode of production achieved this socialization through the privatization of ownership of the means of production and as such created the potential for full development only for those who became free from the shackles of direct labor, the capitalists themselves.  Even here, however, this conflict between capital and labor internalized the potential for revolutionary self emancipation of the working class through bringing workers together under the conditions of the factory system, which he saw as capitalism’s unique technological expression.  The concentration of workers allowed for the first time a widespread recognition of the conditions of exploitation of the underclass by the underclass itself and created the potential for revolution.

 

Whether he was right about the isolating effects of rural life under feudalism or the revolutionary effects of urban concentration under capitalism, it’s not really about ‘stupid’ rural people, but of the objective social conditions within which rural labor has to exist.

 

Hope this made sense and/or helps.

 

 

 

 

 

http://books.google.com/books?id=VOfrAAAAMAAJ&dq=schumpeter+capitalism+socialism+democracy&q=idiocy#search_anchor

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Along other projects, I have been working on a paper (so far) titled: “Geography and the Entrepreneurial Profile
– A Study of Rural and Urban Populations in Denmark”. It is coauthored with Kristian Nielsen, a great economist from the Business Department. He’s like me, a PhD candidate, but he has many more skills, including the crucial econometric and statistical analysis. We have done a paper based on a survey conducted to more than 2000 people, of which 3/4 were successful entrepreneurs and the other 1/4 were employees.

Today there is a huge debate about the importance of living in the city vs. living in the country and its influence in entrepreneurship. We wanted to see if they had any difference in their networks, identity and start-up motivation. More or less the question we rise is: Where do you have more differences: between the urban and rural population, or the entrepreneurs and employees (regardless of geography)?. We have asked this in two conferences we have presented the paper the DRUID and the AAG, and answers are split. What do you think?

At the end of the paper, we wrote a fictional story, but based on true research! to summarize our findings. Here I share with you the story, which probably will not be in the paper for space and copyright reasons. The paper? Soon in your best journal :) If you want to give us some feedback (before we send it to the journal!) we could send it to you, I guess.

The Story

To illustrate some of our main findings regarding entrepreneurs we will present a simple example. – Imagine you have two friends, Ruben and Urban. Ruben is from a rural area, and Urban is from a big city. You talk with each one of them once in a while. You are an equally important friend for each one of them, since they have around the same number of friends. Ruben, earned a three-year technical degree and Urban got a university degree. When you hang out with Urban and his friends you talk about ideas for businesses. He is a very creative guy. – Some time passes – Urban is about to get married, and Ruben, although slightly younger, already has. Interestingly, they both started a business in the service sector. Urban proposed that you and another friend join him in his business adventure. You did not join. Urban borrowed some money from family and friends. – A few more years pass, and both of your friends have become successful entrepreneurs – By reading the results of this paper, you know that you are equally as likely to receive a call from either of them to have a drink. But you are more likely to have Urban ask you for help, with for instance, a computer problem. If you do not help him, you should not worry a lot; he’s the type of person who will soon call an IT professional or another friend. It’s not that Ruben won’t have a problem with the computer, but he would not bother you about it. Ruben would probably ended up spending a few days fixing it himself.

This was a didactic example based on some of our results, overemphasizing the main differences. The differences between age, marriage, and education of these characters can probably be explained by socio-economic and cultural values for each region. Whether this is true for the difference in personal traits and work values could be important to further investigate. Also, the reason for the different use of networks is unclear, however, this behavior is probably related to geographical proximity and/or agglomeration issues. It seems that, while much has changed over the last centuries, in today’s economy the rural entrepreneurs still share a certain resemblance to the rural tradition of surviving without division of labour. This behavior was pointed out in the introduction, with the examples by Adam Smith and the ancient Greeks.

Another main finding of our research is that entrepreneurs are similar, regardless of geography, when compared to wage earners. Going back to the fictional case of the story of our two friends; – The most interesting thing happens the day you introduce Ruben and Urban. They start talking about their businesses, and get along very well. They talked about their employees, and complain about the routine problems of their providers, customers and government bureaucrats. However, they both agree on how much they like having the freedom of being their own boss. They exchange cards and comment on how many things they have in common. – And they are right; these guys have always been one of a kind.

L.C. Freire-Gibb and K. Nielsen, forthcoming