“The ‘Asiatic Mode of Production’, has been a hotly contested issue. In recent years the interest in the AMP receded and many scholars tend to reject this concept altogether (28). We would like to discuss Marx’ ideas about the so-called AMP and Asia itself in a positive critical way. Through the study of the history of German law (from the early 40’s onwards) Roman law, later Russian history and India, Marx came to conclusion that communal (or tribal) ownership constituted the universal starting point in history, the remnants of which could still be found in India (1859) (29). He came to consider India (the model for the ‘Asiatic’ type) in its stage of dissolution of communal relations more primitive, the precapitalist formation in India nearer to the original primitive communal mode, than was then was the case with the ‘Ancient’ and other modes; evidently on account of the presumed virtual absence of private property of land and the social homogeneity of the village community (30). Meanwhile Marx had started to gather quite some knowledge about India and some other Asian regions to a lesser extent. Around 1850 he started reading books of Asia. In the autumn of 1851 we have the first notes/excerpts of A.H.L. Heeren, ‘Ideen über die Politik, den Verkher und den Handel der vornehmsten Völker der alten Welt’. Theil 1: Asiatische Völker. Göttingen, 1824. In the same year books were studied about colonial questions. In 1853. Discussions in the House of commons on the future of India gave rise to a peak in Marx’ reading about India (some 20 excerpts). His enthusiasm was particularly aroused by François Bernier, Voiages contentant la description des états du grand Mogul de l’Indoustan, du royaume du Cachemire… (167) (31). Next follow a whole series of books published by the India Reform League. In the same year Marx wrote a selective excerpt of Thomas Stamford Raffles’ The History of Java. 1917. This book made a profound impression on Marx. Both Bernier and Raffles provided information for the idea of absence of individual [legal] ownership of land, that was ultimately claimed by the sovereign. However Marx proved to be conscious of variable social relationships and intermediate elements between the peasant and the ruler (32). In 1854 books were read about the Middle East. Few years later Marx wrote the ‘Precapitalist Economic Formations’ paragraph in the Grundrisse (1857-58). His reading on India went on. In 1859 Marx confirmed the concept of ‘Asiatic mode’ (33), the first in a sequence of modes that gave rise, later on to socialist evolutionary doctrines (Preface of the Critique of Political Economy). In the late 50’s some notes were written about China, but in the year of the articles on China by Marx and Engels, 1853-1862 much less excerpts were made of books on China than on India; moreover the focus was on political and economic relations with Britain rather than on Chinese society and history. However Marx was quite aware of the higher level of development of contradictions in the Chinese formations than was the case in India. He never qualified China unambiguously and explicitly as ‘Asiatic’ (34). In 1868 Marx starts to study G.L. von Maurers, “Einleitung zur Geschichte der Mark-, Hof-, Dorf- und Stadtverfassung und der öffentliche Gewalt” (1854). Maurer confirmed his ideas about village communities and communal ownership of land as the original stage, generally. In the next years not many notes are concerned with Asia. More attention is given to Russia. In the final period of intensive reading and writing of excerpts, 1879-1882, a climax is reached in concentration on precapitalist relations, including Asian structures. The key-book is: M. Kowalevskij, Obscinnoe zemlevladenie, priciny, chod i posledstvija ego razlozenija. Vol. I, Moskow, 1879 (Communal landlownership, causes, process and consequences of its disintegration), based on material about Asia (India), America (Mexico, Peru) and North Africa (Algeria) and vast reading of the relevant literare. Marx did not agree with Kowalevskij’s qualification of Indian social relations as ‘feudal’ (35), as there was no serfdom, no custody, no judical powers of the landlords. Thereafter followed the notes on L.E. Morgan, Ancient Society, 1877; J.W.B. Money, Java or how to manage a colony, 1861; J. Phear, The Aryan Village in India and Ceylon; H.J.S. Maine, Lectures on the Early History of Institutions, 1875; J. Lubbock, The Origin of Civilisation and the primitive Condition of Man, 1870 (excerpts made in the years 180-182) (36). In so far as the last mentioned two books deal with Asia, it concerned India. Altogether these writings provide a wealth of information on the great variety of complicated social relations in precapitalist India and other countries. Nobody knows what Marx might have done if he had lived longer and if he would have had the opportunity to exploit this rich mine of knowledge (pag 9-10) [(29) MEW, vol. 13, p. 21; (30) Marx, Precapitalist Economic Formations, pp: 69-71, 83; (31) MEW, vol. 28, p. 252; (32) F. Tichelman, Marx and Indonesia, in: Marx on Indonesia and India, Trier, 1983, pp: 14 ff; (33) Marx, Grundrisse, pp. 375 ff.; MEW, vol. 13, p. 9; (34) Marx-Engels, India, Cina, Russia, Milano, 1960; Marx-Engels, On Colonialism, Moscw, 1960; Sofri, Über asiatische Produktionsweise, pp. 32 ff. tendes too much to place Marx’s analysis of China along the same lines as his approach of India. The importance of ‘Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft Chinas’, 1931 by the young K.A. Wittfogel (not yet an anticommunist then) has been underestimated; (35) Harstick, Einführung and Einleitung in Marx, Uber Formen vorkapitalistischer Produktion, pp. XIII-XLVIII, and 2-20 respectively; (36) Except the Money notes, these excerpts have been published by L. Krader: Karl Marx, The Ethnological Notebooks, Ed. by L. Krader, Assen, 1972. See for a severe criticism of the way Krader dealt with the manuscripts: Erhard Lucas, Der späte Marx und die Ethnologie. Zu Lawrence Kraders Edition der Exzerpte 1880-1882, in: Saeculum, Bd. 26, 1975, pp: 386-402] [(in) F. Tichelman, Marx and the marxists concerning social formations and Asia (2d. draft). – Asian state formations, power and city. A comparative orientation’, Amsterdam, 1988]