>My understanding is that first large scale agriculture and with it city states are established. You get social stratification into commoners, nobility and priests. Why does this happen? Do priests and nobles start as mere bureaucrats, organizing production and distribution of food, and over the time solidify their position on top of society?
I think the stratification happened even before agriculture. Sadly we don't have writing about how exactly the society before class-society. But I think the Chinese has more details on pre-civilization society than the Western sources. Let take the Book of Lord Shang, which was alleged to be a collection of sayings of Shangyang, a famous Chinese politician in 4rd century BC
>During the time when heaven and earth were established, and the people were produced, people knew their mothers but not their fathers. Their way was to love their relatives and to be fond of what was their own. From loving their relatives came discrimination, and from fondness of what was their own, insecurity. As the people increased and were preoccupied with discrimination and insecurity, they fell into disorder. At that time, people were intent on excelling others and subjected each other by means of force; the former led to quarrels, and the latter to disputes. If in disputes there were no justice, no one would be satisfied; therefore men of talent established equity and justice and instituted unselfishness, so that people began to talk of moral virtue. At that time, the idea of loving one's relatives began to disappear, and that of honouring talent arose.
In this passage, Shangyang was talking about the stage, which Engels called "savagery". In this stage, the main relationship between people was blood-tied. I think at the end of this stage, Shangyang stated that there were "men of talents", in other word, a group of people who were excellent in organization tasks, or simple noble.
>Now virtuous men are concerned with love and the way of talented men is to outvie one another. As people increased and were not restrained and had for long been in the way of outvying one another, there was again disorder. Therefore a sage, who received the administration, made divisions of land and property, of men and women. Divisions having been established, it was necessary to have restraining measures, so he instituted interdicts. These being instituted, it was necessary to have those who could enforce them. Thereupon he established officials. These having been established, it was necessary to have some one to unify them. So he set up a prince. Once a prince had been set up, the idea of honouring talent disappeared, and that of prizing honour arose. Thus in the highest antiquity, people loved their relatives and were fond of what was their own; in middle antiquity, they honoured talent and talked of moral virtue; and in later days, they prized honour and respected office. Honouring talent means outvying one another with doctrines, but setting up a prince means relegating talented men to unemployment. Loving one's relatives means making selfishness one's guiding principle, but the idea of equity and justice is to prevent selfishness from holding the field. But these three methods did not aim at antagonistic purposes. The guiding principles of the people are base and they are not consistent in what they value. As the conditions in the world change, different principles are practised. Therefore it is said that there is a fixed standard in a king's principles.
In this passage, Shangyang talked about the flow of history, the transition between stages. He identified three stages, which I think were corresponding to Engels' three stages too (savagery, barbarian, civilization):
1. Highest antiquity: people loved their (blood) relatives and were fond of what was their own; (savagery, this may be the era where warfare and cannibalism was common)
2. Middle antiquity: they honoured talent and talked of moral virtue (I think this is the period of ancient communism, or barbarian. This period is quite peaceful if we believed what the scientists talked about the relation between brain size and aggressiveness. 10000 BC is a period where human brain size was quite small compared to previous era)
3. Later days, they prized honour and respected office. (100% the era of statehood, in other word, civilization)
Interestingly, Shangyang also said that private property existed before the state (basically in agreement with Engels), as
>Therefore a sage, who received the administration, made divisions of land and property, of men and women. Divisions having been established, it was necessary to have restraining measures, so he instituted interdicts. These being instituted, it was necessary to have those who could enforce them. Thereupon he established officials. These having been established, it was necessary to have some one to unify them. So he set up a prince.
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