For Marx, himself, however, this wasnt as much of a problem as it was to become, and remains, for later Marxists. This is because Marxs economic analysis led him to believe that the peasantry could not survive in the long term. In the third volume of Das Kapital, Marx in fact mentions various processes which might conserve peasant agriculture in the short to medium term. He noted, for example, that because peasant farmers were under no complusion to realize the average rate of profit on capital, grain prices would be low where peasant proprietorship predominated (Capital, Vol. III: 805-6). This observation anticipates a point which has become central in more modern Marxist discussions about the survival of peasant farming, though it hasnt generally been noted by most commentators on Marx for some reason. But it remains true that Marx didnt think that peasant farming could survive in the long term. He argued that it was only compatible with a limited development of industrial capitalism, and insisted that in the longer term the peasantry would be destroyed through impoverishment. As commodity production and merchant-usurers capital tightened its grip on the countryside, Marx assumed that the peasantry would be progressively squeezed until they were forced into the ranks of the proletariat.
A traditional village corn merchant and money lender (above and right) in his warehouse