Are tribal societies communist?

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Are tribal societies communist?

Post by HomelessArtist on Sat Apr 12, 2014 4:00 am

I hate when I hear "Real communism hasn't been tried" and I do not know where I have heard this but "Communism has been the prefered econimic system of 95% of humanity for 99% of history" comes to my mind. Obviously it refers to tribal societies.

But are tribal societies trully communist? If they have a gift based economy, share their resources, means of production, responsabilities and profits what do they lack to be liberal approved Fullcommunism™? Beside being industrialized.
I bet those liberals who pretend to be socialists don't like these societies because they will have to actually work instead of complaining.

But really. I'd love to hear some serious criticism on the matter.

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Re: Are tribal societies communist?

Post by Uberak on Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:33 pm

I don't really think that tribal societies really were as idyllic or egalitarian as some people make them out to be.

I guess that some or most likely a few tribes would have a communist-like or democratic form of governance, but the vast majority of tribes would either be ruled by petty despots/warlords/hereditary tribal chiefs or through kinship/clan-rule.

My knowledge of tribal societies is limited, but the tribal societies that I have looked into so far, including but not limited to Native Americans, weren't really egalitarian in most cases.
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Re: Are tribal societies communist?

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 15, 2014 12:35 am

I suppose it depends on what one means by "tribal societies." We know virtually nothing about the manner by which paleolithic hunter-gatherers organized their societies, although anthropologists and archaeologists can, and frequently do, come up with hypotheses based upon data collected from contemporaneous horticulturalist tribes and ancient fragments collected during excavations.

The degree to which tribal societies are egalitarian (meaning horizontally organized, in this context) largely depends upon the technology at the peoples' disposal. Rudimentary weapons virtually always generate what are known as 'reverse dominance hierarchies.' Simply put, whenever a tribe member attempts to behave in an autocratic manner, he is quickly put to death or exiled by other members of the tribe due to the wide distribution of arms—which enables even the physically weaker members to unify in order to dominate stronger, would-be oppressors. It is only when an asymmetrical distribution of force and resource surpluses develop that classes arise historically.

As for whether one could reasonably classify tribal societies as 'primitive communist,' the answer is yes. That doesn't mean they were/are particularly pleasant to reside in, but it does mean that economic classes and private property were/are not characteristics of such groups.

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Re: Are tribal societies communist?

Post by HomelessArtist on Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:28 pm

OK lets narrow it to the Iroquois League.
The farmland is collectively owned, a family is given enough land for what they can harvest and if they aren't faming some land the land goes to somebody else that needs it. That sounds pretty communist.

But my my issue is not what primitive societies count as communist or not is the fact people dosn't recognize these as communist.

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Re: Are tribal societies communist?

Post by Rev Scare on Sun Apr 20, 2014 12:07 am

HomelessArtist wrote:OK lets narrow it to the Iroquois League.
The farmland is collectively owned, a family is given enough land for what they can harvest and if they aren't faming some land the land goes to somebody else that needs it. That sounds pretty communist.

I would indeed classify such a society as communist, albeit of a backward form.

But my my issue is not what primitive societies count as communist or not is the fact people dosn't recognize these as communist.

Marxists have long recognized primitive communism as a historical mode of organizing human societies. The reason this historic form does not receive much attention from contemporary socialist activists outside of negligible anarcho-primitivist circles is because the socialist tradition, particularly scientific socialism, seeks to transform society in an advanced communist direction, a transcendence of capitalism and not regression.

While the social alienation we experience under capitalism leads many of us to romanticize the simple way of life of tribal societies, there are grave limitations to primitive communism. The reason that primitive communist societies are typically nomadic is because they lead a precarious existence, wherein nature is the undisputed mistress over man. Such societies also produce such a scarce surplus that arriving at, let alone maintaining, any degree of higher culture or lifestyles is impossible. This is why primitivists, advocates of an eccentric derivative of green anarchism that is opposed to civilization, are extreme reactionaries, more so than the staunchest bourgeois right-winger. Rather than emancipate man by making him master over nature and his own destiny, they would sacrifice all human progress since the paleolithic for some idealist delusion of a romantic Stone Age paradise. How can this be justified and why should it? If primitive communism is the best humanity can attain, then we might as well pack up this revolution business altogether.

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