Incan Society: A Society Without Money

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Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Pantheon Rising on Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:07 pm

Just posted to share this interesting piece of history. Enjoy.


Some have argued that the Inca Empire was the ideal socialist state, while others have called it an authoritarian monarchy . In truth, the Inca probably created an empire like many others. Its leaders were distracted by civil war and internecine squabbles among the nobility. And its slaves and laborers built the dramatic works dreamed up by pre-Columbian civil engineers. What's remarkable is that evidence suggests those slaves and laborers were probably well fed. Perhaps more remarkable, in this era where markets are associated with civilization, is the idea that an empire could achieve so much without ever spending a dime.

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Re: Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Admin on Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:16 am

I recall studying a bit about the Inca when I took archaeology. The economy was largely based upon subsistence agriculture with added (modest) quotas, which would in turn be distributed to local rulers as 'tribute' (along with other items).

Clearly, the system was not socialist and does not serve as a model for any contemporary planned economies. However, it does provide an example of an early civilization that functioned without markets — no doubt, a difficult idea for some to accept.


Last edited by Admin on Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:37 am; edited 1 time in total

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Re: Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Balkan Beast on Tue Jun 05, 2012 5:33 am

How can it be the ideal socialist state when there is a ruling elite that is above the rest of the society? Simply because the lower classes of society weren't starved doesn't mean very much, to me that seems like an attempt to keep them in line & working productively. That would be something that is important since as you quoted, squabbles were common among the nobility.
The lack of currency doesn't mean very much to me if status continues to be based on bloodlines, this is also ignoring the brutal nature of the Incans & imperialism.

Far from Ideal in my opinion, still it is worth studying.
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Re: Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Comrade Tito on Tue Jun 05, 2012 6:08 am

It should be also said that when Spain conquered Mesoamerica many people simply killed themselves and their children because they could not bear the slavery. Incan "slavery" was better than what was considered "serfdom" in Europe.

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Re: Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Pantheon Rising on Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:57 am

Comrade Tito wrote:It should be also said that when Spain conquered Mesoamerica many people simply killed themselves and their children because they could not bear the slavery. Incan "slavery" was better than what was considered "serfdom" in Europe.

That is most likely true Tito, not to mention the loss of their indigenous culture and heritage was a travesty.

Also just to clear things up, I was not endorsing it as an ideal state, just posted for reading is all. I find it to be a very interesting history. I believe the Vikings also had a planned economy of this sorts, planned and without markets (only trading with outsiders), and relying on materials from outlying nations which they happened to raid.

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Re: Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Comrade Tito on Wed Jun 06, 2012 6:55 am

Obviously it was not an ideal society, it was a pre-industrial society that lived in the mountains. The point is, even many of those societies had progressive features and they disprove the "human nature" argument that people are always greedy and could not live without markets and private property.

Another interesting but sad thing is that during the days of the Atlantic slave trade many Africans actually thought that the slavers were eating the slaves, because while slavery was widespread in Africa before Atlantic slave trade, the new slavers were just taking so many slaves that people began to think they are eaten. Ironically, Europeans at that time thought Africans are cannibalistic savages - while Africans thought the same about Europeans.

By the way, the first planned economy actually dates back to almost the very beginning of civilization, it was one of the first dynasties of Ur (Sumeria), I think it was the Third Dynasty.

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Re: Incan Society: A Society Without Money

Post by Celtiberian on Wed Jun 06, 2012 9:09 am

Comrade Tito wrote:The point is, even many of those societies had progressive features and they disprove the "human nature" argument that people are always greedy and could not live without markets and private property.

As a matter of fact, anthropologists have proven that market relations didn't characterize any known pre-state societies; a system of gift exchanges most likely typified Paleolithic and Neolithic social relations. (I recommend David Graeber's Debt: The First 5,000 Years to anyone interested in the history of gift economies.)

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