Bourgeois society is the most advanced and complex historical organisation of production. The categories which express its relations, and an understanding of its structure, therefore, provide an insight into the structure and the relations of production of all formerly existing social formations the ruins and component elements of which were used in the creation of bourgeois society. Some of these unassimilated remains are still carried on within bourgeois society, others, however, which previously existed. only in rudimentary form, have been further developed and have attained their full significance, etc. (Marx, Introduction to a Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, 1957)
What allows a tribe of paleolithic farmer-shepherds, Campanella's City of Sun, a jewish sect at the time of Tiberius, a commune of californian hippies, an urban structure of 6000 years ago, a buddhist community of the IVth century BC, a benedictine coenobium of the VIth century AD, a cistercence abbey of the XIIth century, a big factory of the XXIth and the future society to form a coherent set ? Is it possible, beyond huge differences of history, culture, geographic zones and of our knowledge of them, to draw a schema joining them together with at least one common element which furnishes us with an explanation of social transitions?
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