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Late Antiquity To The Early Middle Ages: What Kind Of Transition? (A Discussion Of Chris Wickham’s Magnum Opus)

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Chapter Summary

A Marxist characterisation of Late Antiquity and the early middle ages involves at least two sets of issues. First, what would a coherent Marxist characterisation of the economic structure of Late Antiquity look like? In sharp contrast to Stalins theory of the final extinction of classical slavery in a slave revolution, slavery was widespread and entrenched in the post-Roman West. The second set of issues relates to the notions of feudalism and of the transition from late antiquity to the early middle ages. How well does the theory of modes of production work for this transition? Do Marxists have a coherent understanding of the feudal mode of production? If a fully articulated feudal economy only emerged in the central or even later middle ages, what do one can make of the early middle ages? What do one can mean by serfdom and when did it evolve?.

Keywords: early middle ages; late antiquity; Marxist characterisation; slave revolution



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