18 Oct 2013: Capital (Ch. 27, “The Expropriation of the Agricultural Population from the Land,” 1867, Karl Marx)
With much of the older generation of feudal lords dead or destroyed from widespread warfare within Europe, a younger set took their place with little of the previous economic-ideological system in view but immediate gains to be made in the international economy, which at that time was seeing a boom in and a high demand for wool. Harvesting wool requires housing sheep, which itself requires the transformation of farmland into grazing land, which requires that those occupying and managing the farms are removed. Thus expropriation, the running off of essentially defenseless independent labourers from their plots of land and their cottages, the privatization of common lands, the bargain-basement buyout of valuable state holdings, the Reformation-aided takeover of church properties (removing along with them the ideological basis for concepts such as mutual obligation), all consolidated myriad sources of public ownership into immense private territories, where sheep (citing Thomas More) come to expel and outnumber people. These people flood into towns for survival, creating a mass of labourers ripe for manufacturing upstarts, with only a few shepherds left to tend the fields back in the rural districts. Stripped of property and livelihood, they must become the wage-dependent workforce that capital requires.