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by Louis Proyect
27 March 2002 23:40 UTC
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On Wed, 27 Mar 2002 18:13:48 -0500, Mike Alexander wrote:
>   There is much discussion about how
>capitalism arose in the 15th  century.
>Wouldn't the 12th century Spanish shoemaker
>Jofre  Isaac be a capitalist?
>My understanding of capitalism is it arose from
>the earlier feudal society  through the
>monetization of the economy. 

Money existed back in the time of Plato. It only becomes crucial when 
commodity production becomes generalized. In 12th century Spain (and 
the rest of Europe), the economy was characterized by what Marxists 
call the production of use values. Kautsky called it the "natural 
economy". For an extensive discussion of how it worked, see Marc 
Bloch's books on feudalism. Within the feudal estate, food and other 
necessities were produced for internal consumption. The lord 
extracted a surplus which could be exchanged for luxury items. In the 
city, the economy was not as dominated by such social relations but 
there is no scholarly consensus on how capitalism might have emerged 
in the cities, as opposed to the countryside. My own view is that 
artisans such as Jofre Isaac would have had more freedom in the 
cities and could have evolved into early manufacturers, providing 
tools, raw materials, etc. to other artisans. They were a nascent 
bourgeoisie who came to the fore soon after the New World was invaded 
and cheap raw materials poured into European cities.

Louis Proyect, lnp3@panix.com on 03/27/2002

Marxism list: http://www.marxmail.org

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