Marx’s idea that societies were naturally egalitarian and communal before farming is widely influential and quite wrong

Manvir Singh in Aeon:

The idea goes like this. Once upon a time, private property was unknown. Food went to those in need. Everyone was cared for. Then agriculture arose and, with it, ownership over land, labour and wild resources. The organic community splintered under the weight of competition. The story predates Marx and Engels. The patron saint of capitalism, Adam Smith, proposed something similar, as did the 19th-century American anthropologist Lewis Henry Morgan. Even ancient Buddhist texts described a pre-state society free of property. But The Origin is the idea’s most important codification. It argued for primitive communism, circulated it widely, and welded it to Marxist principles.

Today, many writers and academics still treat primitive communism as a historical fact.

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