HISTORY OF IDEAS – Capitalism

HISTORY OF IDEAS – Capitalism


Today, pretty much every economy in the world is organized along capitalist lines but at the same time, capitalism is almost everywhere regarded with disappointment, frustration and suspicion. Interestingly, none of the criticisms are
new. They’ve been dogging capitalism since its inception. So let’s look back
in time to figure out how capitalism got its bad
name and what might be done to improve it. Padua, Italy, 1304. 0n the wall of a church in Padua
near Venice, the painter Giotto makes a fresco: Jesus and the Money Lenders. It restates for
his own times an idea that had by then already been
well established for centuries in the West: the notion that a good spiritual life
and the pursuit of business and money are sworn enemies. Jesus
goes to the temple in Jerusalem, sees merchants and small-time bankers
crowding the forecourt and gets furious. This sacred place is not a fitting arena
for the polluting activities of buying and selling. The Christian
attack on the immorality of money is deeply influential and severely holds
back the development of capitalism for centuries. Venice, 1450. A Franciscan friar, Luca Pacioli,
publishes the first ever book on accounting: Summa de arithmetica. It’s the single
most important capitalist invention until the birth of the joint stock
company and the modern factory. In the book Pacioli introduces the
principle of double-entry bookkeeping which gradually become standard practice
in all companies. Pacioli’s textbook proposes that
dealing well with money doesn’t depend on faith anymore. Money
isn’t a divine punishment or reward; it’s a kind of science that can be learnt
through patience, reason and hard work. Geneva, 1555. In powerful sermons to his
congregations in Geneva, the Protestant theologian John Calvin
emphasizes to his Swiss audiences the importance of what have
become known as the Protestant virtues: hard work, self-denial, patience, honesty and duty. These will turn out to
be extremely useful qualities for capitalism. Calvin along with many
other preachers who share his outlook explains that you must never
indulge yourself not spend money having a lavish life. You must simply put any surplus income
back into your business as an investment. Calvin adds that
being good at business is far more pleasing in the sight of God
than being an aristocratic warrior or even a monk. Perhaps more than
technology, it’s this new mindset that will
accelerate the progress of capitalism. 1670, Delft, Dutch Republic. The newly
independent Dutch Republic is the world’s first explicitly capitalist nation where
lazy aristocrats are looked down upon and hard-working
merchants revered. In the churches, Protestant sermons about
thrift and hard work are heard. In the arts outgo glorifications of
kings and queens. Johannes Vermeer finishes painting
The Lacemaker, a depiction of the intricate careful and
homely tasks of manufacturing lace. In his painting The Little Street, the suggestion is that living peacefully
and quietly in your own home running a business is far more glamorous
and noble than fighting in a war or going to a
monastery. 1776. 141, the Strand, London. These are the offices and shops of Strain & Cable, publishers who have a big success with a new book:
an inquiry into the nature and causes of The Wealth of Nations written by a Scottish philosopher called
Adam Smith. Smith demystifies wealth creation by
explaining how capitalist economies grow. He reaches several important conclusions.
Slavery is remarkably inefficient. Violence is
less of an incentive than money for a worker and the cost of buying and
maintaining slaves far exceeds the cost of wages. Capitalists
will make far more money by treating their workers legally and
humanely. It’s by specializing that economies grow,
says Smith. Smith focuses on the pin making industry
and concludes that while one worker could make up to 20 pins
a day, a team of 10 workers well arranged could make not 200 but 48,000 pins, thanks to what Smith terms the Division
of Labour. Smith also tells us that capitalism is
guided by an invisible hand. By maximizing one’s own profit,
individuals inadvertently benefit society providing
goods that people want and need. As Smith puts it: “It is not from the
benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner,
but from their regard to their own self-interest.” These ideas
further remove the moral suspicion that once surrounds capitalism. But not all
will be won over. 1854, London. The British economy is now the largest in the world thanks
to its enormous industries of cotton, shipbuilding, steel and coal. Vast cities
have chewed up the countryside of the Midlands and northern England.
Merchants and the newly rich capitalist class have triumphed. But many are furious.
Charles Dickens, one of Victoria England’s most passionate
critics of unrestrained capitalism publishes a novel: Hard Times. Set in the
fictional town of Coketown, a version of Manchester, it takes aim at
heartless capitalists like Mr. Gradgrind who abuse their
workers, exploit young children in mines and chimneys and use their relentless capitalist
logic to blind them to their desecration of nature and human life. Here is Dickens’ writing on Coketown: “It
was a town of red brick, or a brick that would have been red if the smoke and ashes had allowed it;
but as matters stood it was a town of unnatural red and
black like the painted face of a savage.” Dickens argues that capitalism is evil
because it encourages appalling conditions for the producers. Under the sway of capitalist logic
otherwise quite nice people will keep coming up with reasons why it’s okay to employ a child in a factory or to let poor people
starve once they’ve reached the end of their working lives. 1860, London. The English reformer John
Ruskin publishes Unto This Last, a furious
track against capitalism that takes aim not so much at the
production side of capitalism as the area of consumption. Like Dickens Ruskin is incensed that people are being
exploited and the environment ruined. But he asks a
further question: In the name of what? Ruskin notes that
large capitalist fortunes are built up on selling people absurd
things: knick-knacks, fancy plates, embroidered napkins, bonnets carved sideboards. The whole of the
suffering of the cotton factories of Manchester are being fed by our appetite for very cheap
shirts with delicate collards. We are ruining our lives for trinkets,
whereas for Ruskin money shouldn’t only be made morally, it
should be spent morally on the truly noble and beautiful things
that humans need. He contrast the beauty of Venice with
the ugliness of modern Britain to make his point. Berlin, 1963. The leader of communist East Germany,
Walter Ulbricht launches an ambitious new scheme: the
Neues Ökonomische System or NÖS. It aimes to solve for East Germans the two major failings of capitalism in his
eyes. One: It will guarantee workers good
conditions with a huge expansion in the number of state schools, housing blocks and holiday
camps. And secondly: It will focus not on the fripperies of
capitalist production like blue jeans and pop music; it will
give people the works of Plato and Marx and uplifting television programs about
track to production. 1976, Dresden, East Germany. The fatal flaws of communism come to a
head in January with a massive riot about the unavailability of coffee.
East Germans love drinking coffee but a huge rise in global prices means
that the German Democratic Republic can no longer afford to import it in the
necessary quantities. The Politburo decides to remove all coffee
from shops and replaces it with “mich Kaffee”, mix coffee which is 51 percent coffee and 49
percent a range of fillers including chicory, rye and sugar beet.
Dissatisfaction with this eventually has to be quelled with the
use the Stasi or secret police. It’s an inadvertent tribute to capitalism
which is especially good at providing us with life’s little luxuries.
Edeka hypermarket near Hamburg, November, 1989. East Germans who have
recently breached the wall head straight for West German
supermarkets like Edeka near Hamburg. They marvel at the productive capacities
of capitalism and the ability that it has to provide such
modest but very important things as olive oil, party hats, ice spuns and coffee.
The old East German elite who had believed that the people could be
satisfied with philosophy, athletics, sauerkraut and TV programs
about farming are hounded out of office. 1999, Seattle, USA. The World Trade Organization, a capitalist body dedicated to removing
protection from industry and liberalizing markets gets together
for its next round of talks, 10 years since the fall of communism and
after a decade of unprecedented economic growth. But though
the mood of politicians is upbeat, out in the streets hundreds of
thousands of anti-capitalist protesters have gathered to call an end to the
iniquities of global capitalism. The complaints are strikingly similar to
those made by Jesus Christ. Capitalism doesn’t look
after the producers and capitalism downgrades the important
spiritual ends of life for the sake hamburgers,
unsustainably cheap clothes and garish distracting mass media. With
their beards and guard figures many of the protesters look a little
like Renaissance’s renditions of Jesus. The police take a very heavy hand, fired
tear gas into the crowds, arrest 2000 and call in the National
Guard. The protest remind the world that besides the winners of capitalism
there is an enormous army of the disenfranchised and the angry
who see more sense in Jesus, Dickens and Ruskin than in Adam Smith and Bill Clinton. 2015, Cupertino, California. Apple Computers officially becomes the largest
corporation in the world. It’s a giant success story. But the very same challenges remain. It
turns out that Apple are indirectly responsible for the suffering
and abusive of workers in the supply chain in China by the Foxconn corporation and with the
launch of the Apple watch, a gadget that seems to have no
particularly urgent purpose, questions are once again raised about
why we are exhausting ourselves and the planet for ends that are so out of proportion
with the costs they impose on all of us. To generalize: Capitalism is
amazingly productive but it has two big flaws. Firstly, it
systematically inclines to ignore the sufferings of workers unless regularly prodded not to. And the
wealth of companies is often built up on satisfying what are not the essential needs of human
beings. Fortunes are made on making unhealthy food or bad
television programs. The challenge for the future is how we might
be able to make money humanely by treating people and the earth well and
also make money through activities which
address the more noble end of human needs. Till then, the rage
of Jesus in the temple will periodically always go on.

100 comments

  1. East germans in 1988 "Socialism good. We will never abandon it. Life is harsh this is the way it is, and life is harsh because of capitalism, our propaganda masters said so."
    East germans in 1990 "Mmmm mmmm mmm can't talk my face is full of cake. Socialism? Dafuk is that? Never heard of it."

  2. Capitalism: You give us money for the things you want.
    Socialism: We take your money and give you the things we want you to have

  3. Think about this: over millennia we were all forced to need money, and now that most money is just numbers in computers we could actually eliminate it! And then there won’t be any unequal wealth! It’s possible for us today! That’s amazing! I wish we would just eliminate money because then we’d end world poverty! We could easily destroy capitalism! And end unequal wealth worldwide because money won’t exist! Wow!

  4. The ultimate climb/war fought anywhere on earth can always be reduced to the #selfless circle of "Love" vs the #1 way linear #selfish "Greed."
    Ps. Do you understand the #Human #Nature of #Hope to identify #Purpose of #Choices? #InnerPeace #Harmony
    (Global IP Gift) https://t.co/u6cpB32Hak

  5. This is an endless debate between "haves" and "have not's".
    "haves" shall always find new arguments, theories, policies, illusions and systems to deceive "have not's" because "haves" always have more power, more sources, media control, etc.

  6. capitalism is the freedom to buy and sell any amount of anything you want to or from anyone you want, otherwise it is NOT capitalism.

  7. In ww2 we had 60 million dead to preserve the way we are living today. In modern times the formula might be the destruction few generations by bad foods, education and entertainment but producing very high volume of technology for the sake of better future for the next generations.
    But then when we look at history I think it's always been that way. Kind of like our parents.
    I could be wrong but…….

  8. Jesus, the first Commie Socialist of all time.

    Capitalism in practice and theory is forcing demand and supply for maximizing ones own self interest until the whole world is dead, while putting distractions such as racism, entertainment, etc. to prevent the common people from gaining their rights.

  9. Jesus told the parable about the servant who could have invested the money he was given and profited instead of just burying the money. Jesus objected to corruption. The Bible tells us how the doves for sacrificial offerings were bug infested. The money changers were also corrupt & known to be profiting on absurd, dishonest exchange rates. When Jesus fought back, he was killed, according to three of the gospels, a few days later.

  10. I’m glad to say I’ve found at least a SINGLE channel on the Internet whose claims and critiques I can disagree with or dismiss – but also glean something out of.

    Although this official-unofficial series on dissecting ideological and systemic ‘-ism’s tends to put an emphasis on description, it DOES irk me just a bit how these videos can implicate—for example, and in my case—the irrationality of those who outright reject the tenets of Marxism. Now this is among other things, those pertinent to other videos; but what interests me is how these videos outline the mental path taken by proponents of ideologies that repulse me, or how detractors of those that I thoughtfully subscribe to perceive MY process of thought.

    Oh, and now thanks to these videos, I apparently type like one of those fake internet-philosophe-types ? Thanks.

  11. Capitalism is an economic theory… Not Sunday school. Money is just a representation of value. A means of exchange. You make money by providing value. How you treat your workers, has nothing to do with capitalism. And in a truly free market, employers fight for the best employees because there's enough competition. Sadly, govts are used to eliminate competition by "raising the standards" for the public good.

  12. Great Britan was rich not just because of their industries, they had colonies as well. Sugar coating history? not a good thing.

  13. We should be extracting the materials for our useless products from space and using the discovery of raw materials as an excuse to explore the Universe.

  14. Capitalism is a bit of a snake pit.
    But of course snakes are not immoral or out to profit at any cost,
    so this is an unfair and stigmatizing comparison for reptiles…

    Reptilian theme in Vigelandsparken Park, Oslo Norway
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E4jaUe4TCzU

  15. "Capitalism" is sabotaged English, sabotaged to have populations centered in "Wealth Clusters", possibly "having a hand in which "town" "becomes" the "Capital" and having a Urban-Rural divide, and also to sabotage learning of Money Systems.

  16. The use of biblical context of Jesus Christ and the money changers at the Temple, is completely juvenile and ignorant. If one would consult a bible scholar, it would be immediately apparent, that Jesus wasn’t upset at the commerce in the Temple. The money changers were conducting “exchange rates” from foreign currency, to Jewish Temple coins. What he was outraged at was the fact that the money changers were cheating the people by giving little to no value for their foreign currency. Therefore, these people that wanted to buy animals for sin sacrifice, were only able to buy them with Jewish Temple money, and therefore were getting robbed for their devotion.
    He wasn’t against the commerce. He was against the thievery.

  17. 0:48 Prager University would desagree that Jesus was against selling and buying in a market. He even encouraged to pay taxes, and some of his parables showed the liberties of a man paying and contracting workers in his wine farm. Jesus's teachings would fit a little more with Capitalism than Communism or Socialism. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9EXnVitkmo

  18. Jesús did not have an issue with money. The issue with the money changers in the temple has nothing to do with money. The central theme is buying forgiveness. Forgiveness from God cant be bought, it’s free due to God’s mercy.
    The supposed issue with money is due to people betting on money instead of on God. The fact is that money can’t save you since the material nature of the body will inevitably die. Jesus was focused instead on the soul which is eternal.

  19. the invisible hand of capitalism is the emotionally retarded belief that "i'm the king of the castle and you're the dirty rascal"

  20. Every time I go to the supermarket to buy an energy drink and see all of the kinds of ham and vegetables and spices and products that makes me think "hmm, that could probably be useful. Might try it some day" – then I also think to myself:
    "Thank god we have capitalism enhancing our lives to great extent that we see now – and thank god that I live in the western civilization and have an opportunity to make my life great"
    The west is the best

  21. Weak and superficial conclusion,
    1) understanding "making money" as the inevitable goal. It should be: a fair and liberal system to distribute resources.
    2) omitting externalities as the underlying cause of market failure.
    3) while mentioning Rushin, it leaves out the aspect of manufacturing desire through advertising and the mechanisms that lock capitalism in place.

    I have a degree in philosophy and have contacted the 'school of life' to contribute to their programs. Of course, they won't respond to me. I – and too many who are smarter than me – are the invisible, deplorable victims of a society that has no need for thinkers.

    We should remember that there IS no meaningful work for everyone unless we allow a Luddite intervention. The profundity of the cultural change necessary can barely be overstated. You have read this comment? Do you consider it, and the responses to it, "work"? Do you consider your facebook-comments "work"? It is mind-boggling!

    All is will to power – a legitimate hope for the future is that people of fair character will seize power, people who feel a natural inclination to use it to serve the downtrodden. People who rent a house in order to host couch surfers.

  22. Capitalism believes in a rich class and a poor class. The religious people believe in equality but agree with Capitalism. The irony….

  23. Yet to achieve their own goals they would have to use the ideas of capitalism, because their agenda is only profiting themselves, and not everyone / everyone else, aka the capitalists

  24. There are two types of people, those who want to know, and those who want to believe…
    1. The curious 2. And the ignorant

  25. Somehow he manages to ignore that fact that capitalism has lifted billions out of poverty. Somehow this fact is always missing when people critisize capitalism. Fex. What were the chinese workers doing before they had the chance to work there. Starving to death in the countryside. Now china has had the fastest march into middle class and upwards in the history of man. Capitalism (and humanism) has manage to turn the table. 90% extreme poverty worldwide to 10%…

  26. Cheers for the truth and the wrath of God is building up against America who are using liberty as a cover for evil (1 peter 2:16 )
    Telling the world they are spreading Democrocy to the world while in truth they are just robbing and piliging nations for their resources.
    Your channel is so honest I am going to subscribe.
    God bless you, Peace from Australia.

  27. " It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner…"
    Me: "Ah yes, but what of the candlestick maker?"

  28. I fundamentally disagree. Capitalism was the vehicle on which the fundamental arguments on moral prosperity even came to be discussed. Without capitalism society would not have be able to progress to the point that we could have the Luxury or civil rights.

  29. an interesting read…
    mindset of "SECRET" SOCIETIES
    PROTOCOLS OF THE MEETINGS OF THE LEARNED ELDERS OF ZION
    http://www.biblebelievers.org.au/przion2.htm#PROTOCOL%20No.%201

    The President and the Press: speech by John F Kennedy
    Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association,
    April 27, 1961 two years before the assassination on November 22, 1963

    The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society;
    and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies,
    to secret oaths and to secret proceedings.
    We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment
    of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it.
    Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society
    by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value
    in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with
    it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security
    will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits
    of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the
    extent that it is in my control. And no official of my Administration, whether
    his rank is high or low, civilian or military, should interpret my words here
    tonight as an excuse to censor the news, to stifle dissent, to cover up our
    mistakes or to withhold from the press and the public the facts they deserve to know.

  30. Today many people believe we can’t live without the money of the world… but if one understands the Divine Law of intelligentsia… then one would understand that capitalism is a tool used to evolve the human instincts…

  31. This video is ok to watch, but anyone who wants to understand the philosophy of capitalism needs to go deeper because this video is obviously biased against capitalism.

  32. Stop telling companies to stop employ people from other nations, it is better for us poor people to have a job than to die from starvation. – from Vietnam

  33. Capitalism comes from communism. Communism is basically: No freedom of speech, no guns, no private property or personal privacy, and no legal rights or bill of rights.

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  34. This is quite a disappointing venture. It appears far less an objective presentation of capitalism as a subtle rant against it. The notion that Jesus is anti-capitalism is rich! Too bad, could have been more valuable.

  35. But what is the solution ? Dogma and ideology will cancel itself in time but what is the answer to peace & prosperity ?
    It lies in a combination of both socialism=common sense and capitalism=profits that's all. And it can be reasoned out only on the ground of reality = empirical information open to the strictest scientific standards. Simply no room for dogma like the price of labor instead of the price of the goods made by the worker for instance. And of course the treating the Earth like a commodity which it's NOT (ditto labor) So capitalism must be tamed so to speak with all the bells wistles &flags exactly like taming a horse before it'll work for you iso fukkin you & everybody up like it's doing right now. That economists don't report this is reason to be scared : who or what is at the helm ?

  36. When the notion of entitlement to other people's money becomes consensus no other people can be found to take the money from.

  37. 1:36 it was actually a Croat Benedikt Kotruljević who introduced it in his book Della mercatura et de mercante perfetto.

  38. before going to italy all thatgo to india check before chanakya said it all.by vedas your dumb west always think of westry way into west.

  39. these england scott all thief looters.shame on them..they all got by indians as slav.dumbas can tey try now we kick out them by misil

  40. Dang! It was going so well until the conclusion; capitalism's 2 flaws. These are presented as if other economic systems do not have these "flaws"; as if no other system had/has poor people doing mundane labor, and that no other system tries to produce frilly "useless" stuff. This, "capitalism is good, buuuuut…." rationale never puts capitalism in context with all the other econ systems. The question isn't whether capitalism is perfect, but whether it maximizes "good" and minimizes "bad" better than other systems. Clearly it does. The rich do not get richer and the poor poorer. Every billionaire you can think of made his/her money in their own lifetime. The single greatest millionaire making machine in human history was MacDonald's. Every franchisee became a millionaire, guaranteed. After that it was Microsoft. It churned out millionaires for over a decade. By the 4th generation the entire fortune created by John D. Rockefeller was gone. His descendants did not get richer. Instead Bill Gates got richer, Warren Buffet got richer, Beyonce got richer, Oprah got richer, and Michael Jordan got richer, while all the Rockefellers got poorer. The question isn't whether capitalism is flawed, but how flawed compared to everything else. In context, it's a miracle machine, and only Millennials are blind enough to complain about their most luxurious lives ever lived by humans in the history of the world.

  41. "Slavery is remarkably inefficient. Paying wages to laborers is a far greater incentive."

    So wages increased from 0 to x, and now we're reverting back towards 0..

  42. Having been born and raised in the ghetto of NE DC, and now being a successful business owner with fourteen families who rely upon “our”success……I would say that capitalism is by far the best system for any society! Learning and becoming expert in any field of public need definitely has its purpose. Having a marketable value will bring great reward. MAGA 2020!

  43. The problem is that greed fuels capitalism, rather than everyone getting their fair share, and all fairly wealthy in the process. But on the other hand, all the other systems based on that just make everyone poor and further enrich the elite in government.
    Until we learn how incorporate just a slight hint of socialism, primarily aimed at the giant corporations, we will continue to be a miserable example of a system.

  44. People really misunderstood Jesus in that verse about the market on the holy ground… I don't think this person has studied theology nor finance.

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