The Roots of Capitalism

The Roots of Capitalism

The Roots of Capitalism

The Roots of Capitalism

Excerpt

For many years the system we call capitalism was on the defensive. It existed in the here-and-now, and its imperfections, whether inherent or not, were plainly apparent to everybody. Socialism, on the other hand, was something to be attained in the future, a thing of shining colors wrapped in the gossamer tissue of a dream. Its imperfections, if there were to be such, were still concealed in the womb of time.

When contrasted with a dream of perfection, capitalism was manifestly at a disadvantage. But with the advent of socialist economies (Communist Russia, China) and the semi-socialist, or "mixed," systems of Scandinavia, Britain, and New Deal America (to say nothing of the "national" socialisms of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy), capitalism no longer requires apologists. Under any comparative audit of systems it comes out very well indeed. It may have its islands of poverty, its "contradictions," but it does not murder people as a matter of policy or shut them up in concentration camps. It does not force men and women to accept uncongenial occupations or goods that are subjected to the approval of a small "planning" bureaucracy. It does not reduce life to a continual round of abject permissiveness.

The title of this book, then, parades itself unashamedly: capitalism is a word for a system that can stand on its own attainments. As for the plan of the book, the effort has been to explain the categories and institutions of economics in terms of their origins, the men (whether originators or not) who first made . . .

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