Artisans of the world, unite: the ‘peasant way’ and alliances for an artisan mode of production
The aim of this thesis is to search, from a class perspective, for the ‘natural al-lies’ of peasant movements today. What is the conceptual glue that could pit different sectoral movements together, and mutually attentive to their respec-tive causes? I argue that by extrapolating the proposition of a ‘peasant way’ or peasant mode of production, governed and dynamically reproduced by its in-trinsic laws and forces, into general political economy terms, the boundaries of a particular sector – agriculture – can be breached. Thus defining the quest for a peasant existence as the inverse of the proletarian existence – individual con-trol over the means of production, and hence individual decision-making capa-bility over production – we can search for the peasant-like producers of other sectors. From this search emerge fascinating similarities across diverse sectoral struggles. It suggests that the ‘peasant way’ is only one image of an ‘artisan mode of production’ which incarnates in all sectors from housing and educa-tion to the sectors of material and intellectual production. Far from being represented by Marx’s theory of the ‘petty producer’, and hav-ing shown their ability to secure economies of scale through cooperation, these ’outliers’ of the classical Marxist class system must realize their common class position and interests. Their ‘artisanism’ is characterized by disenchantment with both the reality and the ideal of being proletarian, i.e. with lacking direct control over one’s means of production, and thus lacking the capability to di-rectly make production decisions, a view that resonates with a long history of Marxist currents beyond, besides and sometimes against the proletariat. In that sense, artisan-class alliances are, similar to the cross-sectoral alliance of wage workers that characterized anti-capitalist politics in the 20th century, more than mere tactics or mutual solidarity, and depend on a common economic logic of subsistence. Finally, the paper analyzes implications of this perspective on the ongoing debate over non-capitalist institutions and mechanisms of governance.
|Keywords||peasant way, peasant principle, class definition of peasantry, non-capitalist modes of production, artisan class|
|Thesis Advisor||Spoor, Max|
|Series||Agrarian and Environmental Studies (AES)|
Thiemann, Louis. (2014, December 12). Artisans of the world, unite: the ‘peasant way’ and alliances for an artisan mode of production. Agrarian and Environmental Studies (AES). Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/2105/17340