Tuesday, May 10, 2016

US capitalism began with colonialism, slavery

Ilan Ziv (Icarus Films), Sheldon S., Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly

"The magical circle of investment and conquest... begins with the discovery of the Americas. This is the engine of two wheels: the wheel of scientific discoveries and the wheel of capitalist economy. Credit, investment, profits. More credit, more investment, more profits." 
—Historian Yuval Noah Harari
How did capitalism develop? For centuries, the standard tale -- laid out by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations and repeated uncritically ever since -- has gone like this:

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Adam Smith, economist, moral philosopher
Humans used to trade and barter, but as society became increasingly complex, barter became harder to manage and metal then paper money developed.
The trouble is that -- like the story of Columbus "discovering" America -- everything about this classical formulation is wrong.
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You will be a conquered chattel-slave then freed to work for us as a wage slave: progress.
This episode "Capitalism" explores the origins of capitalism, arguing that it is inextricably linked to the slave trade and colonialism, as well as the rise of Western science.

Capitalism came before Adam Smith by centuries: The plantations of the West Indies were purely capitalist enterprises, as were the privately-funded expeditions that colonized the US, India, Ireland, South America, Africa, and much of the world.

Like today's tech startups, these ventures offered high risk but huge rewards to those that succeeded.
On a journey covering four continents and nearly a millennium, viewers discover the flourishing free market of 12th-century China.

Native economic systems
Learn how the economics of indigenous societies differed vastly from their portrayal by Smith.

Understand how the European "discovery" of America fueled a scientific boom that was integral to colonization, race-based slavery, and economic exploitation.

This created a global capitalist boom that was felt from the bustling streets of China to the slave castles of West Africa, the markets of Spain and to the pastures of England.
Featuring historian and Smith biographer Nicholas Phillipson, economist Kari Polanyi Levitt, historian Yuval Noah Harari, and others. More

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