Social Scientist. v 4, no. 42 (Jan 1976) p. 14.


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FRANCOIS HOUTART

Palestine in Jesus' Time

ASIA HAS experienced a special type of feudalism, the Asiatic mode of production. It is characterized by the peasants living in highly organized communities centred on kinship relationships with a very strong internal cohesion; while the state, directed by princes or kings, appropriated the surplus by intervening in production mainly by the expedient of organizing irrigation. In nearly every case, this was the prevalent model in the rice-growing areas.

On the other hand, in West Asia (Middle East) where irrigation was not necessary as the population did not depend on rice, a somewhat different mode of production developed. It is called the sub-Asiatic mode of production. These regions were characterized by perpetual wars as they lay on the great communication routes between the East and the West, and between the great empires of Babylon and Egypt. They consisted, for most of the time, of kingdoms with martial aristocracies. This likewise caused the state to requisition a large part of the surplus produced by the people from agriculture as well as from trade to finance the wars. The Roman Empire developed according to another social type with a mode of production based on slave labour, due to the intensive development of maritime trade. For this reason society needed a very large number of productive forces to bring about



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