By M. C. Howard;J. E. King

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Empirically, there are recognisable types of social formation which indicate that the variations in the productive relations corresponding to particular forces of production, and variations in superstructures corresponding to particular productive relations, have actually been significantly bounded. 'Thus, hunter-gatherer societies are all fairly similar in their forms of distribution of power because their low level of resources implies that there is not much surplus power to distribute within them.

And the specific type of regulation applied to the financial sector by the state has huge implications for capitalism generally (as we will see in Chapters 7 and 8). We have already pointed out that the very nature of the employment relationship in capitalism generates conflicting interests and thus gives rise to a labour management problem. The five other core properties of capitalist relations of production - the powers of property owners, impersonal markets, market dependence, rationalised organisations and capitalist finance - make endemic two other problems: the coordination of future-oriented activities and the transfer of risks to those best able to deal with them.

If people are acquisitive and rational, any inefficiency in the productive relations or superstructures will tend to be recognised and there will be incentives to eliminate it. In this sense, rational choice theory supports historical materialism. But, nonetheless, the existence of inducements for change does not guarantee that they will be effective in bringing about the change. There will be opposition from those favouring the status quo, who may have substantial power. Consequently, change stemming from acquisitive motivation and rational action will occur only in special cases, where losers from the change can be easily overcome or can be guaranteed compensation for their losses so that their resistance is neutralised.

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