Good Essay On The Tributary System, The French Revolution And The Industrial Revolution
The Tributary System
It is said that ancient tributary systems first evolved between the years 3000-300 BCE. Empires, kingdoms and tribes were said to be linked to one another because of commercial and economic reasons, and so these tributary systems were actually market-driven. Among the features that characterized ancient tributary systems were political domination, strong social inequality, warfare and slave labor. The first tributary systems first arose in the Fertile Crescent area. As the individuals there transitioned from being hunter-gatherers to agriculturists, food soon became in abundance in the area. Politically there emerged leaders in these communities who gained power via control over these material resources, and also via their relations with the guardians of the “deities” and ancestors. These leaders thus took advantage of their positions by initiating rituals dignifying the deities and ancestors, and requiring the citizenry to provide them with gifts that were tantamount to giving thanks to these deities and ancestors, and also to the leaders themselves (Carmack, 2013, 74-75). Thus the tributary states were subordinate to the more powerful state, with the tributary state being submissive to the more powerful one. In return, there usually was a sense of security within the tributary state in exchange for the tribute paid by the tributary state to the more powerful one. Economically, the tributes were the many forms of transfer of wealth paid by the tributary states to the larger and stronger ones.
The examples of tributary states are: first, the Ryukyu Kingdom was a tributary state of China in the Ming Dynasty period. The Chinese Empire sent several families in order to control the maritime trade coming from the islands going to Japan and then to China (Tsai, 1996, 145). Another example is the case of Moldavia, which became a tributary state of the Ottoman Empire in the 14th century (Agoston and Masters, 2009, 390).
The French Revolution and Citizenship
Experts aver that it was during the French Revolution that the notion of citizenship was first born. It is seen as a process wherein citizenship was conferred upon the people. Citizenship came in the form of both equality and a sense of belonging to the state as its bonafide member. The main difference between being a subject and being a citizen is that citizenship carries with it the so-called unalienable rights – such as the right to free speech, the right to be able to freely select one’s life partner, what one is to do for a living, and other similar rights. Subjects or vassals did not have these same rights. They had to receive instructions from their leaders. The most significant document produced during the French Revolution was the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, wherein rights have been conferred upon the new citizens of the republic – the natural, unalienable and sacred rights are those rights of liberty, property, security and resistance to oppression. This document also declared an end to feudalism and to all the privileges held by the aristocracy. Thus the citizens were no longer subjects who had to pay tributes and who had to serve their lords and masters, but who now possessed these rights as a matter of being a member of the new republic (Lefebvre, 2005, 212).
The implications of the new form of citizenship post the French Revolution is that it is the people who now have a choice in the selection of the leadership. This is in contrary to the past wherein the leadership was a birthright, or claimed by a conqueror. There is also the consultative element, wherein the leader must consult with the citizenry or with duly designated representatives of the citizenry before any major decisions are made.
The Industrial Revolution: Peasant to Laborer
A number of technological innovations set of the Industrial Revolution in England in the middle of the 18th century. The new loom enabled textile production forty times faster than if it was done by hand. Steam engines for both rotary and mobile applications also produced efficiencies for production and for transport, and iron making was made more efficient with the use of larger blast furnaces and the use of coke instead of charcoal in wrought iron production (McNeil, 1990, 392-395). Still in the age of mercantilism, England was a relatively wealthy country as compared to the other countries in continental Europe. The recent rise in the population of the kingdom resulted in the development of a class of landless agricultural laborers – peasants who did not own any land. In the countryside, less labor was now needed with the introduction of machines and other technologies. Thus there was an excess of laborers from the countryside. At the same time, the greater demand for English products such as textiles abroad, caused the setting up of factories in centers near to ports for the transport of these products for local and international trade. The excess peasants who no longer could work the farms as production was more efficient, coupled with an increase in extra workers du3 to the dramatic increase in the population of England during this time, all moved towards these manufacturing centers to search for their new means of livelihood. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, the family produced all that it needed, worked off their land, consumed what they could and sold the excess. Now, with the need for paid labor in the factories, many people transferred to the centers of manufacturing, where they could provide their labor and get paid in exchange for their services (Padavic and Reskin, 2002, 20). Therefore the ordinary peasants in the countryside were transformed into the first laborers for manufacturing concerns at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
Agoston, Gabor and Masters, Bruce. (2009). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. NY: Facts on File, Inc.
Brubaker, Roger. n.d. The French Revolution and the Invention of Citizenship. Web. http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/soc/faculty/brubaker/Publications/04_The_French_Revolution_and_the_Invention_of_Citizenship.pdf
Carmack, Robert. (2013). “Anthropology and Global History: From Tribes to the Modern World System”.
Lefebvre, George. (2005). The Coming of the French Revolution. NJ: Princeton University Press.
McNeil, Ian. (1990). An Encyclopedia of the History of Technology. NY: Routledge.
Padavic, Irene and Reskin, Barbara. (2002). Women and Men at Work. Thousand Oaks, CA: Pine Forge Press.
Tsai, Henry. (1996). The Eunuchs in the Ming Dynasty. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.