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Capitalism: origin and destiny
Following from the last post: Capitalism is a society run by capital as the major instrument of power - the ability to own land and hire others. Its origin is simple. The word comes from cap (roman), head, used to name a new calf, still in use, "How many head you got over to your place?" Early empires, in this case, Rome, were primarily large cattle ranches and cattle the basic measure of wealth followed b family and land. Capital is the result of breeding, as we talk of wealth increase. Growth, fecundity, generative.
Hunter gatherers became herdsmen, and what counted was the number of cattle you or your tribe has. Counting starts here. Point your finger at a cow. Easy to imagine two cows and two fingers. On to digitalization and from there easy to see notches on a stick, and that stick denoting the number of cows in a transaction by giving the stick. Hence money and price (we still have bride-price in much of the old world in cattle).
As the population increased the critical focus shifted from cattle to grass. When there was plenty of grass and few cattle, grass was free, but increasing population sifted the most important and conflict-inducing concerns to grass.
In Greek, the word economy comes from eco - estate - and nomos -law. The earlier form of the word nomos , many years before Plato and Aristotle discussed law more abstractly, was nomia, meaning equal distribution and used to describe how land was to be divided. But it was clear that equal-sized lots were, (mor or less rocky, etc.,) not equal, and there was no metric that could led to fair equal distribution, so society fell to using law as an invention of the state, not as a natural metric. The origin of civilization can be attributed to this new form of legislated law replacing a natural measure.
In hunter gathering, herding and pasturing societies, stronger men (and occasional women) dominated the decision-making and leadership roles. As population increased the strong man began to create a circle of support - a kind of cabinet - around them. The rest of the people became a kind of parliament to be persuaded.
A key issue is the rise off ownership, which seems to have started with clothes jewelry, and simple weapons, but the idea of "mine" was extended to cows, horse, shelters, ad women. The origin of property I also simple (despite economics test books and discussions on general history). As society differentiated into different levels of leadership and craft, there were new laws about what each group could own or wear, from which we get the idea of proper, what shows the status of a person in society, hence proper became property. "Are you dressed properly for the meeting?" (so simple. Can we rethink it?)*
We can see how modem society is an extension of old ideas leading to a capitalist (breeding wealth) society where the surplus - cows, grass women were owned by a few and the rest treated as a class of worker-slave -captives.
The modern arrangement of using those with wealth to hire others, as workers and mercenaries, completes the picture of the underlying development that underlay modern capitalist (unequal ownership) societies.
There is something horribly wrong with a society that started with providing for all and has turned into such a concentration of wealth. What are the additional dynamics that allow a Bezos or Cook and others to gather in such piles of wealth and power? Large numbers, weak values, laws (such as give authority to owners), These dynamics are all necessary to explore if we to have a chance to think our way out of climate catastrophe (seemingly increasingly unlikely, but we have to do something with our time. How about engaging the issues? Drop what you are doing?
“Then there was well-bred economy, which in those days made show in dress the first item to be deducted from, when any margin was required for expenses more distinctive of rank. ”
Excerpt From Middlemarch George Eliot