There is much discussion about how capitalism arose in the 15th
Wouldn't the 12th century Spanish shoemaker Jofre
be a capitalist?
My understanding of capitalism is it arose from the earlier feudal society
through the monetization of the economy. As land (e.g. a fief) ceased to
be thought of as an income (in kind) recieved for miltary service rendered,
but rather as an asset which could be bought and sold (for money), the
economy became monetized. Land was now an asset (capital) managed to
produce a stream of money revenue which could be used to buy Eastern
luxuries, pay workers, who were decreasingly bound to the soil, and to pay
money taxes in lieu of actual personal military service.
Capitalism is simply the combination of management of assets to produced money
income combined with a desire to increase this income stream.
It was the special situation of feudalism, in which military power (and
hence politcal power) rested on the fedual obligation of one's vassals that
allowed capitalism to arise. Only after this obligation had become
monetized did the quantity of one's money income become critical to power.
But such income can be created by the accumulation of capital (i.e. money
income-producing assets) as well as by the subordination of additional vassals
through military action. This created a value for capital in the minds of
the nobility, and with it an appreciation for the merchant class. It is
this value attached to capital this is capitalism.
This idea interprets the endless accumulation of capital characteristic of
capitalism as simple a modern form of the endless quest for power that is
characteristic of all societies.