Recombinant Mutations

David Levine

in At the Dawn of Modernity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780520220584
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923676 | DOI:
Recombinant Mutations

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Some people had their aspirations dissatisfied by the surplus-siphoning techniques of feudalism, although others were able to realize their ambitions because they lived beyond the reach of the empire of subjugation and expropriation. Their existence makes it awkward to label the whole social formation as “feudal,” but on the other hand, it will not overlook the centrality of feudal relations of production in generating the wealth that kept the rulers afloat while giving the rest of society its distinctive coloration. Indeed, the period after the year 1000 was “feudal” in the same way that the American South in 1860 was a “slaveholding” society. The point is not that all the population conformed to this typology but rather that the typology captures the overarching importance of feudalism in Europe 1000 years ago and slavery in the southern United States 150 years ago. The ambitions and mobility the middling sorts displayed were hardly reconciled with the dominant models alive in the social imagination.

Keywords: feudal; slaveholding; aftermath; social formation; typology

Chapter.  3859 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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