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The Guild And Where It Lies!

December 7, 2010

Marx refers to the division of labor of the guild continuously in his and Engels paper. He discussed the guild type labor and how it had to be learned from the guild master who put the laborers into their employee position by their interests. If it was only day labor, they didn’t organize them. He stresses that the guild system went into towns and “rabbled” them. It came to the town, took power from the people and made the people worthless. “It was composed of individuals who were strange to one another, had arrived separately, were unorganized, and faced an organized power for war and jealously supervising them” (790). The guild was in complete control.

This compares to the idea Marx refers to earlier about labor, “power over individuals, and as long as this power exists, private property must exist” (790). The guild definitely seems to have power over the individuals, whether they know each other or not. Thus, this is a sign that private property exists and moreover, that the guilds could be thought of more as capitalists that socialists. They seem to do the same kind of exploitation that capitalists did during the medieval times and what capitalists do now. They take advantage of the individuals and do not let them rise to power. There were masters that controlled the people below them and this is crucial in the idea of capitalism that in a business, there is someone on top, then people below, then people below that and the individuals and refugees could be put at any point below the lowest guild leader.

The difference to the capitalist society is that these guild employees “had to be well versed in a whole round of tasks and had to be able to make all things that could be made with his tools” (791). Thus, unlike the capitalist society, specialization was not a must. These employees had to be able to create anything. If you wanted to make it to the top, you had to be good at every type of labor with the tools you have. In a capitalist society, if you want to get to the top, you just need to be the best at what you specialize in.

So, with this said, could the guild be considered Marxist or capitalist or neither or both?

One Comment
  1. December 8, 2010 1:34 AM

    To get to the top you need to be the best at what you specialize in is an accurate statement. But it is not completely true. In todays world, or for that matter in the totality of existence, not everything has been fair. There are people who make it to the top because they are basically given the opportunity or they got their by malicious ways. This is unfair but true. The point thought that people need to understand is that the former is still possible. Just because the world is unfair doesn’t make it impossible to reach the top with merit. If one is intelligent, they will be able to produce in any situation. Sure some people get very lucky, but if you are honestly intelligent you will always be successful. It is what you do with your potential. Success doesn’t have to be measured with money or power anyway. Success can and should be measured with how productive you are and how happy you are. If you are doing what you love, you will be good at it, you will be happy, and you will be successful.

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