We have already seen that Marx regarded Russia as a semi-Asiatic country, and as such he often bracketed it with the truly Asiatic countries in his analyses. Its chief difference from them arose from the causes of its political centralisation: it was not a case of using a very low level of productive forces to satisfy the imperatives of a basic hydraulic-engineering system imposed by the very facts of geography and climate, but rather of defending settled populations against repeated incursions by neighbouring nomadic tribes. Nevertheless, in Russia too there was a despotic power, based on the exploitation of scattered self-sufficient village communities, in which farming and cottage industry went hand in hand and the near or total absence of privately owned land meant that the exploiting class was predominantly bureaucratic. Marx was therefore right to define it as a ‘semi-Asiatic’ country, not in a purely geographical sense, but with the weightier economic and social overtones that immediately recall the concept we have just explained of the Asiatic mode of production.
KeywordsCommunal Property Village Community Russian State Settle Population Russian City
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