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Primitive-Communal Formation
 

p The history of society begins with the appearance of man whose ability to make and use implements of labour sets 210 him apart from animals. Labour holds the most important place in the emergence and development of man. It was in the process of labour that man himself was moulded and the forms of his social organisation arose and developed.

p The primitive-communal system was the first and lowest form of organisation of people and it existed for tens of thousands of years. During this long period man succeeded in advancing from the use of objects of nature—sticks and stones—to making primitive tools. At first these were crude adzes, knives, chisels, javelins and spears, fishing hooks, etc., made of stone, wood, horn or bone. As time went on these implements were improved and carefully shaped. Then new implements appeared—bows and arrows, boats, sleighs and so on. Man learned how to make fire, which was of particularly great importance for the progress of humanity.

p Together with the perfection of implements, people developed and improved their work. From the gathering of natural products (edible fruit, berries and grasses) man went over to cultivating plants, to farming, and from hunting wild animals, to their taming and domestication, to livestock raising.

p The extremely low level of the productive forces under the primitive-communal system also determined the corresponding relations of production, which were based on common ownership of the means of production and were therefore relations of cooperation and mutual assistance between people. These relations were conditioned by the fact that people with their primitive implements could only withstand the mighty forces of nature together, collectively.

p In primitive society people lived in groups, in clans based on consanguineous ties. They worked the communal land together with common tools, had a common dwelling which sheltered them from bad weather and wild beasts. The products they obtained were shared equally. The level of the productive forces was so low that people barely managed to obtain enough -food to survive. There was nothing that could be appropriated. Therefore, private property, classes and, consequently, exploitation did not exist.

p Even in primitive society the productive forces developed steadily, though very slowly. The instruments of labour were improved and skills were gradually accumulated. The transition from stone to metal tools was a tremendous leap forward in production. The new implements—the wooden 211 plough with a metal plough-share, the bronze or iron axe, etc.—made labour more productive. It became possible to grow crops and raise livestock on a wider scale. The first big social division of labour took place when stock raising became separated from crop growing. Later the crafts (making of tools, weapons, clothing, footwear, etc.) emerged as an independent branch of production. Exchange of products began to develop.

p With the growth of labour productivity the clan began to break up into families. Private property arose and the family became the owner of the means of production. However, the means of production were mainly concentrated in the hands of families of the former clan elite. Since the producer began to make more things than were necessary for his own subsistence, the possibility arose of appropriating the surplus product and, consequently, of some members of society enriching themselves by exploiting others. The spread of private property and commodity exchange speeded up the disintegration of the clan. Primitive equality gave way to social inequality. The first antagonistic classes, slaves and slave-owners, appeared.

This is how the development of the productive forces led to the replacement of primitive society by slave-owning society.

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Notes