By Steven Pressman (eds.)
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Additional info for Alternative Theories of the State
The pay-off at the social level for the new economic organization was the steady improvement in aggregate output. Mankind was in the grip, not of new motives, but of new mechanisms. , [eventually] comprising the whole of society.... [A] James Ronald Stanfield and Jacqueline B. Stanfield 39 civilization was being disrupted by the blind action of soulless institutions the only purpose of which was the automatic increase of material welfare (Polanyi, 1944: 219). The self-regulating market economy must be an economy guided by the variations in relative prices that are established by the supplydemand-process.
But the subjective meaning of substantive economic activity is not implicit in that objective function. The provisioning function may be latent, inexplicit and the necessity of provisioning carried out in the context of social life in general. As long as [the redistribution and reciprocity] forms of integration prevail, no concept of an economy need arise. The elements of the economy are here embedded in non-economic institutions, the economic process itself being instituted through kinship, marriage, age-groups, secret societies, totemic associations, and public solemnities.
The sharp distinction between internal (within the town) and external trade (between towns) maintained in the medieval town remains today. Mercantilism emerged as the modern state emerged. Those involved in external trade enlisted those building the emerging nation-states to break down trade barriers imposed by the towns. As industrialization spread outside towns, as the population of walled cities spread outside their walls, and as gilds expanded their geographic scope, the power of the towns to regulate commerce broke down.
Alternative Theories of the State by Steven Pressman (eds.)