What Is Capitalism? Part 1 Enclosure

What Is Capitalism? Part 1 Enclosure

hello and welcome to a short series of
films about what is capitalism. Most of you seem to think you know. what it is but I don’t think you do. Most
people think it’s things like shopping for example, which up to an extent it sort of is, so you buy some Pannini cards with footballers on them, that’s part of the
capitalist system that you’re playing at however, when you barter them you’re not strangely enough. Capitalism isn’t buying and selling
everyone does that. were in Kernow now, look down here for an explanation of Kernow and there has been trading going on here since at least 2000 BC tin copper things like that. So what is
Capitalism itself. So simply you could call it the accumulation of Capital This section this little five minuter, I hope it’s gonna be is about the conditions you need to
make Capitalism work. You need to put it together first, you need to have the conditions by which the old system that was there before even before Feudalism, is actually a destroyed. So how do you do that well since the 12th century powerful people have been taking over
land and they’ve been taking over any bits and pieces they can get but that kind of increased apace as they discovered they could get away with taking over more and more and that no-one could do anything about it. So you come up to the 18th century and there’s a mad increase about 1730 to 1740 there are 39 pieces of land enclosed taken over. Look round here because this is actually Rame Common in Kernow (Cornwall) and there is a sign there that says property of Wendron Parish Council, which is not
true actually because actually it belongs to everyone, it is common land, it is everybody’s. Oh look there’s a rabbit! Yeah it belongs to everyone its a tiny scrubby bit of land but there used to be
vast tracts of that. About 6.8 million acres have been enclosed from 1604 through to 1914, that’s quite a lot of space and that was space that was ours;
everybody’s, everybody had it. But in order to create the accumulation of Capital you need to put it in the hands of just a few people. So the vast
majority people, the peasantry as we would call them, were
forced from the land, some tenant farmers were given little
tiny pieces of land that they could play with, although generally not big enough to make a living
from so they tended to sell them on to the major landowners. In some strange kind of way there’s a parallel with what happened to
Russia with the introduction of laissez-faire Capitalism, as we’ll call it; we’ll come to that later, in
another piece, from state capitalism essentially, as they had it before. We went from feudalism to Laissez-faire
Capitalism although there are some people who’d still call it Feudalism actually. Right so what happens They introduce some regulations in order to give the Land to other
people. To a small group of people (‘Hello’) and we take it away from the
vast majority of people (‘it’s nice that you can enjoy the common yeah yeah I’m just doing a little thing to camera about commons’ ‘Oh are you?’ ‘Enjoy’ ‘Sit’) the commons are given to a very small group of people as I say, 6.8 million acres in the period
that I was talking about before from 1604 to 1914 and that means that peasant farmers
can’t afford to live on land more so by the beginning of the nineteenth century the 1800’s we have a vast underclass who can’t
afford to survive. They were using the open field system before that which has taken over into private
ownership. That was a system in which everyone pulled together, the land was often held in common ownership and people would pull together and bring the harvest in, as a community, and things like that. On top of that was common pasture, such as this and yeah you could put your goat on here. Although if you put a goat on here it would probably spit at you all that’s left of it, this bit of common. You could hunt on it as well so you could scrape a living if you are
cottager or if you were tenant farmer or if you were a regular
peasant you could actually live. You could make some kind of living by
scraping by. But after the sale of all of the property and after all of the land, any land you
could use had gone there was only one thing that you could do and that was to sell your self essentially. Sell your labour, sell your life to somebody else. Generally the people who owned all the land. They were already now starting huge factors; enormous factories, in major
city centres and you can go and work there There was a bit of a problem about that. One of the good things about
this actually is that there is a massive increase in productivity, of the land, that you could actually grow far more stuff on the land. That was a bit unfortunate because if you decided to stay on the land and you didn’t own it, then your wages as an agricultural employees I I as an agricultural employee went down because food was worth much less. At the same time the factories were opening up in the major conurbations and if you
left the land and went and worked in them, then again the prices of labour were dropping massively. So you were knackered one way or the other really. So what we have is an underclass who were taken off the land and put into, essentially, a new kind to
slavery It’s what we call wage labor now actually. So there you go, people were actually, to start capitalism in the first place, you
needed a hugely violent act, which was to take people from
the agricultural community and to send them into the cities, or to live as farm laborours on very very little money indeed. Here’s
one of the new threshing machines now the sort of violence is going on here is both
is the atomization of people’s relations to each other. the
deskilling, the dehumanisation of the work that they
did, this took very little skill in comparison to the old skills before, and the subsistence wages with prices
which have fluctuated according to supply. Initially of course the
mechanization of both the city and the countryside
decreases the amount that the commodities cost. Crucial
to this is a change of consciousness, of atomized
individuals broken away from their previous
relations to each other. There is no longer any collective
ownership or working together for the common good, these are now free labour in a new free-market.
Industrialization of both manufacture and agriculture, is gonna drive down
everyone’s wages, inevitably, as we see with Ricardo. It might be seen to be a bit impertinent to blame any of this on a king. At the time
though you had, for about sixty years, almost, you had George the third. George the Mad King, in charge. He was in
power from 1760 to 1820. This is a Ventura County Museum effigy of George the third, looking unheimlichly like very young Boris Johnson the London mayor at the minute, who is also related to the king and is a cousin of our prime minister. He is probably the first enlightenment King.
He had a major interest in science, industry and technology but also, unfortunately for farm workers, agriculture
as well. The so called real Boris Johnson would no doubt think of these images as scouser sentimentality which perhaps paradoxically cannot be a
charge leveled at Lord Liverpool who is prime minister for
much you this time. Lord Liverpool, often described as a
non-entity as a prime minister, introduced a lot all very important laws, with the game rules restricting the
hunting game entirely to landowners. The six acts
came in 1819 and restricted people from all gathering in numbers or writing
seditious literature such as the truth. Culminating in Peterloo, where the Gentry hoed down the protesters, from
various different groups. Lord Liverpool strangely enough was anglo-indian. His grandmother was Indian although he looks a bit ginger
in the paintings of the time. Post King George the third you have the Regent King George the Fourth in charge and then you come to king William the Fourth and Prime Minister David
Cameron is of direct lineage to King William the Fourth through his mistress Dorothea
Jordan and their illegitimate daughter Lady
Elizabeth Fitzclarence. So we have another relationship here. King William the fourth was the last King,
so far as we know, to directly appoint a prime minister.
Although its rumored David Cameron got his job after a phone call from the house of
Windsor, from ‘the firm’. Of course, none of Lord Liverpool’s
legislation could come about without some kind of intellectual
underpinning of all of this. As we mentioned before, we have just
passed the Enlightenment. Adam Smith in ‘The Wealth of Nations’ in 1776 lays out some ideas of
free trade which are built upon by Malthus and then later, David Ricardo. Ricardo
writes about the subsistence theory of wages and is builds upon, very extensively, by
Karl Marx, but we’ll come back to theories opposing capitalism in a later
video. Ricardo comes up with a whole series of ideas about what is the right way for free
trade to operate. These include the concept that nearly
all value is based on the quantity labour, along with scarcity, that goes into the commodity. Ideas
about Capitalism being the accumulation of
Capital, being the point of Capital and the subsistence theory of wages, that
wages will always hit subsistence level. That there
is in fact a ‘natural’ level of wages. As though this was a natural or
biological system that had been inherited for hundreds of thousands of years. A kind of genic system. The genic was out of the bottle especially when people starving to death.
So maybe we can go back to Kernow. So let’s go to a place in Penryn, where there was a result of this that you can see. This is going to be fun doing this. It’s eleven minutes already, bloody hell. he he he he Don’t want to run outta battery. Turn it off. So what you’ve got, essentially, are people starving all over the United Kingdom, we’re outside the Seven Stars in Penryn now. In the North there are more troops fighting the English in the North of England than there were fighting Napoleon in the Peninsula wars at the beginning in
nineteen century. Down here about 1830, there was a bread riot of sorts. There was loads of trouble in 1830 and 1947. In the local papers, reported in Helston, Redruth and here in
Penryn. What’s happening is that it’s a market town Penryn. Nice clock tower in the middle of it. Built from the ruins of Glasney College, which was the last thing the ruling class had despoiled and stolen all the lands from. They needed some more land now but
the key element now I was just too I’m charge
whatever they liked for their produce and pay whatever they
liked as well. Food wasn’t being sold at the old rate and what happened on this road is that a bloke was coming down it with a cart full of hay or wheat or whatever it was. and they hit him over the head with a rock in a sock, something of that ilk, and instead of just nicking it, what they did is, they took the wheat and neatly folded up bags. Left the guy there,
nice and comfy on the folded up bags and left the old
money for it. Cuz they were good methodists. So they stayed true to their own ideas and that happened here. But further down the road at Flushing that was where the ships were going from at the time. Let’s go and have a look over there. Hey Another Seven Stars its This is where I get attacked by swans. Great. Here we are in Flushing, which is where thousands of people congregated to stop the wheat
disappearing out to feed the army and the navy who were fighting the Peninsula War against Napoleon. Obviously the ones in the North who were slaughtering the English; they could pick
up what they could over there, that’s fine, however they arrived here and it had all been loaded onto a ship, ready to leave. So you’ve got thousands of miners, fishermen as well, a good cross-section of the Kernow people, who, by this time are good Methodists. So the captain of the ship says “Well, to be honest, I totally agree with everything that you’re saying and let’s sing a hymn on the basis of that”. So they get together and he brings down this cabin boy he’s got a beautiful angelic voice and he starts singing this hymn. Everyone joins in, fantastic singers I often join in a few Cornish songs, here and there, and at the end of the hymn everyone’s happy and they lookout and there’s the arse end of the ship disappearing past the castle, up there. That’s Falmouth over there. And that was that. That was the rebellion. It didn’t work out as well as it could have done. So there’ll be many more of these, I guess, because we’ve only set up the beginnings of how to create Capitalism and what are the conditions for it. Essentially it’s the accumulation of Capital. Thank you very much.


  1. No. The prices of food went down with enclosure, which meant that even underemployed people could feed themselves. Jobs in the town factories were far preferable to the intermittentĀ earnings on the farms. That is why people were attracted to the towns. The macro numbers show generally increased wages, better food and clothing, and easier access to the health care of the day. Longevity increased and infant mortality decreased.

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