natural economy

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natural economy

an economy in which money is either absent or very scarce, in which people produce for themselves with little or no trade within the economy or with other economies. A term which is now little used because of the problems with the word ‘natural’ and the question as to whether any such societies exist.

Natural Economy


the type of economy in which production is directed toward satisfaction of the producer’s own needs. “Under natural economy society consisted of a mass of homogeneous economic units . . . and each such unit engaged in all forms of economic activity, from the acquisition of various kinds of raw material to their final preparation for consumption” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3, pp. 21–22). The natural economy emerged in ancient times and became dominant during the historical stage in which the social division of labor, social exchange, and private property were still absent. In slaveholding society and under feudalism, the natural economy remained dominant despite the ongoing development of exchange and commodity-money relationships. K. Marx pointed out that the natural economy could prevail on the basis of any system of personal dependence, whether it be slavery or serfdom (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 24, p. 544).

Production under the natural economy is typically closed, limited, tradition-bound, and dispersed, with routinized methods and a slow rate of development. As the social division of labor deepens, the natural economy is gradually replaced by commodity production. Yet under capitalism, certain features and vestiges of the natural economy are preserved at the level of peasant farming. In the transitional period from capitalism to socialism, the natural economy is one of the economic structures preserved in some countries. Among the socioeconomic structures that existed in Russia immediately after the October Revolution of 1917, V. I. Lenin mentioned “patriarchal, i.e., to a considerable extent natural, peasant farming” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 36, p. 296).

The natural economy lasted for a long time in economically backward regions of the globe, such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America, where clan-tribal or feudal relations predominated until European colonization. In the mid-20th century, 50–60 percent of the population of countries that have been freed from colonial dependence, especially those countries with “capitalist orientations,” is still employed in the existing natural or seminatural economy.


Marx, K. Kapital. K. Marx and F. Engels. Soch., 2nd ed., vols. 23–25.
Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma ν Rossii. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3.
Problemy industrializatsii razvivaiushchikhsia stran. Moscow, 1971.


References in classic literature ?
Full of grog,” interrupted the steward, his features settling down, with amazing flexibility, into their natural economy.
Many associate this to his natural economy of words and shy personality, while there can also be a case made for his time- engendered distance from today's generation.
With IPIC's Aa3/AA/AA credit ratings from Moodys, S&P and Fitch, highly experienced management, a quality asset base, and strategic role closely aligned to Abu Dhabi's natural economy, the IPIC transaction was extremely well received globally and generated an order book in excess of $12 billion equivalent, with approximately 350 investors placing orders, approximately half of which were making a new investment into IPIC bonds.
We are talking here about a trade whose first agents are represented only by the producer (either peasant or craftsman) and by the client itself, a primitive trade which removes the autarky's [12] danger from the core of natural economy.
Natural Economy Northwest claims access to large public spaces encourages people to exercise more, which tackles heart disease, and cuts the pressure on the NHS and firms covering sick leave.
These species having the same general habits, occupying analogous situations and obviously fitting the same place on the natural economy of this archipelago that strikes me with wonder.
Projects like this create woodland people can use, supports habitats and provides a boost to the natural economy.
In regards to understanding economic behavior in early modern Europe, he is skeptical about the value of economic models which oppose a largely subsistence-based and local natural economy to an increasingly commercialized and money-based market economy.
Natural Economy Northwest believes another 4,500 jobs could be created in the region if more residents start enjoying the countryside and coastline nearby
Physical objects have a completely different natural economy than intellectual goods.
While briefly evoking Blake's "unabashedly anthropomorphic" (67) approach to natural process in the first chapter, Hutchings' second chapter explores its implications through The Book of Thel, where anthropomorphic construction combines with natural economy to reveal "a relational universe" with which "the very identity of each living thing is infinitely deferred in context" (89).
What all of this points to isn't only a natural economy but a local one.