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An economic analysis of the causes of serfdomslavery - Essay Example

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Slavery has long been traced even at the era when ancient civilization began, namely along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in Mesopotamia, the Nile river in Egypt, the Indus valley of India and the Yangtze river valley of China. However, slaves during these times were relatively few in number because the males were usually sent in battle and get killed in the process while women were sent to tend to the fields and other household duties…
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Download file to see previous pages Serfdom on the other hand, is also a social economic system whose conditions of bondage are bound but not limited to the fields of landowners. This is in return for protection and the right to work in their leased fields.
Basing on these definitions, serfs are also slaves, only that serfs are entitled to property rights, therefore, free, in a way, to do what he thinks is fit for his land. In an analysis paper on the causes of slavery or serfdom in relation to agrarian capitalism, the author distinguishes the two systems by the following context. This is with the assumption that:
"A slave can be forced to supply unskilled labor when supervised by a farm operator but he cannot be forced to surrender his non traded skills. This captures the idea that you cannot make a slave a residual claimant without also giving them a substantial degree of independent control over how they allocate labor between their tenancy and labor services to the landlord. A slave owes labor service in return for nothing other than a subsistence wage, whereas serfs were typically peasant farmers who maintained access to land in exchange for payment to a landlord which may or not have included significant labor-service obligation." (Jonathan Conning, p.10)
It was during the medieval times, with the rise of feudalism in Europe, that the era of serfdom and slavery became rampant. In the feudal system, the society was divided into three social classes, namely the religious, the nobles and the laborers. The serfs and the slaves were under the third class, whose tasks mainly consist of household duties. The nature of slavery and serfdom prior to the colonization of America was described in an online article at the following context:
"Most slaves in Africa, in the Islamic world, and in the New World prior to European colonization worked as farmers or household servants, or served as concubines or eunuchs. They were symbols of prestige, luxury, and power rather than a source of labor." (Digital History online textbook)
The Rise of Capitalism
This social economic system developed further in Medieval Europe. Though it declined in Western Europe, in the later middle ages, it spread out on Eastern Europe. With the Europeans desire for colonization, it expanded to Africa and shortly thereafter, to Americas. An online article also pointed out that "It was only in the New World that slavery provided labor force for a high-pressure profit-making capitalist system of plantation agriculture producing cotton, sugar, coffee, and cocoa for distant markets." (Mintz, S.)
This is when the nature of serfdom and slavery transformed and evolved.
During this process of exploration and colonization, emerged the "triangular trade" between the colonies. The triangular trade is derived from the three ports or regions that participated in the trade namely West Africa, West Indies and Europe. The trade evolved where commodities that are not needed in one region are shipped (export) to other regions that needs and receives it (import).
In this trading system, the products of slave labor like sugar, molasses, tobacco and rice were brought to England where an exchange of goods took place. The goods were also shipped to Africa in ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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