The Dawn of Capitalism -Learn to Earn

The Dawn of Capitalism -Learn to Earn

Business & Money Nano Library

The Dawn of Capitalism -Learn to Earn_ A Beginner’s Guide to the Basics of Investing and Business

Capitalism happens when people make things and sell them for money. Or if they don’t make things, they provide services for money. For much of human history, capitalism was an alien concept, because the bulk of the world’s population never got their hands on money. Over thousands of years, the average person lived out his or her life without buying a single item.

People worked as serfs, slaves, or servants, for masters who owned the land and everything on it. In return, the workers were given free room in a hut and a tiny plot of ground where they could grow their own vegetables. But they didn’t get a paycheck.

Nobody complained about working for zero pay, because there was no place to spend it. Once in a while, a pack of traveling salesmen would come through town and set up a market, but a market was an isolated event. The kings, queens, princes, princesses, dukes, earls, and so forth, who owned all the property— buildings, furniture, animals, ox carts, everything from gold jewelry to pots and pans—kept it in the family. It wouldn’t have occurred to them to sell off a piece of land, even if they could make a big profit and have less grass to mow. There were no “for sale” signs in front of castles. The only ways to acquire real estate were to inherit it or to take it by force.

In many parts of the world, since the earliest days of Judaism and continuing with Christianity, business for profit was an X-rated activity, and lending money and charging interest could get you kicked out of the church or the synagogue and guarantee you an eternal spot in hell. Bankers had an unsavory reputation, and people had to sneak around and visit them on the sly. The idea of benefiting from a transaction, or getting ahead in life, was regarded as selfish, immoral, and counter to God’s plan for an orderly universe. Today, everybody wants to improve his or her lot, but if you had lived in the Middle Ages and you said your goal was to “get ahead” or to “better yourself,” your friends would have given you blank looks. The concept of getting ahead didn’t exist.

If you want more details about what life was like before there were markets and before people worked for a paycheck and had the freedom to spend it, read the first chapter of Robert Heilbroner’s classic book The Worldly Philosophers. It’s a lot more fun than it sounds.

By the late 1700s, the world had opened up for business with brisk trade between nations, and markets were cropping up everywhere. Enough money was in circulation and enough people could buy things that merchants were making a nice living. This new merchant class of shopkeepers, peddlers, shippers, and traders was becoming richer and more powerful than princes and dukes with all their real estate and their armies. Bankers came out of the closet, to make loans.

The Dawn of Capitalism -Learn to Earn_ A Beginner’s Guide to the Basics of Investing and Business

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