Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe

By Traian Stoianovich | Go to book overview

5

ECONOMY

The primary economic difference between archaic and modem (or precapitalist and capitalist) societies may appear to be the lack of a market in the archaic society. In fact, however, archaic societies were not without markets. A more important distinction was the absence of conditions conducive to the elaboration of a clear concept of economic value.


Number and Economic Value

The diffusion of a concept of economic value required a relatively highly developed notion of number. Even in Aristotle's Greece, however, there existed a primitive tribe that could not count beyond the number four. 1 The use in ancient Greek, Old Slavonic, and modem Serbo-Croatian of one form of expression for two, three, and four items of a given thing, but of a different plural form to refer to more than four items, suggests that counting may have occurred in two steps; first up to the number four, probably early in human history, and later beyond that number. The presence in the Indo-European languages of common cognate terms for one hundred may further indicate that some of the speakers of these languages at least were able to count up to nine hundred ninety-nine before the Indo-European dispersions of the fourth, third, and second millennia. They may have even been able to count in the thousands simply by associating the idea of a thousand with the term ten hundred, as did the Goths and Slavs. As for the Greeks, even before 500 B. C., they had devised symbols in their alphabetic notations for numbers up to 99,999,999. In the third century B. C., they conceived yet bigger numbers. 2

Finally, in the late Middle Ages, the symbol for zero reached the Balkans by way of the Arabs. The use of Arabic numbers was not generalized in the Balkans, however, until the nineteenth century. Even today, among the Greeks, the letters of the alphabet continue to play the role of numbers for some purposes.

Numerical conceptualization by itself does not guarantee the existence of a clear concept of economic (or exchange, as against use) value, whether explained in terms of labor, utility, scarcity, supply and demand (equilibrium), or of varying attitudes toward these phenomena. Movement toward such a discov

-186-

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Balkan Worlds: The First and Last Europe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Balkan Worlds - The First and Last Europe *
  • Contents *
  • List of Tables xi
  • List of Maps and Diagrams xiii
  • Foreword xv
  • Preface xvii
  • Acknowledgments xix
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One *
  • 1 - Earth Culture 7
  • 2 - Biotechnics and Social Biology 47
  • 3 - Technology 69
  • 4 - Society 120
  • 5 - Economy 186
  • 6 - Personality and Culture 235
  • Part Two *
  • 7 - The Liberties and Constraints of Culture 267
  • 8 - The Interacting Population Systems 318
  • Bibliography 359
  • Index 421
  • About the Author 433
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