A History of the Economic Institutions of Modern Europe: An Introduction of der Moderne Kapitalismus of Werner Sombart

By Frederick L. Nussbaum | Go to book overview

PREFACE

I HAVE sought in these pages to appropriate for the purposes of American readers and students the main lines of the synthesis of the economic history of Europe embodied in Der Moderne Kapitalismus of Werner Sombart.* Although I have taken with both hands from Professor Sombart's monumental accumulations, in justice to him it must be stated that I have not pretended to limit myself to his materials or to his formulation. The sin of omission, on the other hand, is implicit in my task and apparent on every page.

Sombart's synthesis has a peculiar value for present-day American readers and students. Forced to recognize the involvement of the United States with the European world, they must also recognize that the political units of Europe are not mutually independent and self-determining in the economic sense, as they claim to be in the political sense; that fundamental institutional changes operate across and frequently in disregard of political boundaries. In this book, special pains have been taken to retain and even to emphasize the generalized gesamtwirtschaftliche character of Sombart's work. A constant effort has been made to avoid substituting political or technical history for the record of the evolution of the modes and the institutions of economic action, of the ways of getting and spending. Consequently it has been necessary to avoid as much as possible the prevalent fallacy of political history, the constant use of terms with variant content, by the regular and persistent practice of definition. It is hoped that nevertheless the form thus defined in each part and each chapter also moves and

____________________
*
Der moderne Kapitalismus. Historisch-systematishe Darstellung des gesamteuropaischen Wirtschaftsleben von seinen Anfangen bis zum Gegenwart. 3 vols. in 6 parts. Munich and Leipzig, 1916- 1927.

-vii-

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