Guide The Origins of Capitalism and the Rise of the West

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In this study, Eric Mielants provides a novel interdisciplinary interpretation of the origins of modernity and capitalism in particular. He argues that contrary.
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Uneven and Combined Confusion: On the Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism and the Rise of the West

It is for this reason that most history has been framed within the borders of modern states. In recent years, however, some historians have tried to think beyond such frameworks, bringing together stories of regional or even global scope—for example, Charles S. When we apply that global perspective, we develop a new appreciation for the centrality of slavery, in the United States and elsewhere, in the emergence of modern capitalism.

We can also comprehend how that dependence on slavery was eventually overcome later in the 19th century. We come to understand that the ability of European merchants to secure ever-greater quantities of cotton cloth from South Asia in the 17th and 18th centuries was crucial to the trans-Atlantic slave trade, as cloth came to be the core commodity exchanged for slaves on the western coast of Africa. We grasp that the rapidly expanding markets for South Asian cloth in Europe and elsewhere motivated Europeans to enter the cotton-manufacturing industry, which had flourished elsewhere in the world for millennia.

And a global perspective allows us to comprehend in new ways how slavery became central to the Industrial Revolution. As machine production of cotton textiles expanded in Britain and continental Europe, traditional sources of raw cotton—especially cultivators in the Ottoman Empire as well as in Africa and India—proved insufficient.

With European merchants unable to encourage the monocultural production of cotton in these regions and to transform peasant agriculture, they began to draw on slave-grown cotton, at first from the West Indies and Brazil, and by the s especially in the United States. It was able to escape the constraints on its own resources—no cotton, after all, was grown in Europe—because of its increasing and often violent domination of global trade networks, along with the control of huge territories in the Americas.

For the first 80 years of modern industry, the only significant quantities of raw cotton entering European markets were produced by slaves—and not from the vastly larger cotton harvests of China or India. A global perspective lets us see that the ability to secure more and cheaper cotton gave European and North American manufacturers the ability to increase the production of cheap yarn and cloth, which in turn allowed them to capture ancient cotton markets in Asia, Africa, and elsewhere, furthering a wave of deindustrialization in those parts of the world.

Innovations in long-distance trade, the investment of capital over long distances, and the institutions in which this new form of capitalist globalization were embedded all derived from a global trade dominated by slave labor and colonial expansion. A global perspective on the history of cotton also shows that slave labor is as much a sign of the weakness as of the strength of Western capital and states.

The rise of capitalism and the development of Europe | Revealing Histories

The ability to subdue labor in distant locations testified to the accumulated power of European and North American capital owners. Yet it also showed their inability to transform peasant agriculture. We cannot know if the cotton industry was the only possible way into the modern industrial world, but we do know that it was the path to global capitalism. We do not know if Europe and North America could have grown rich without slavery, but we do know that industrial capitalism and the Great Divergence in fact emerged from the violent caldron of slavery, colonialism, and the expropriation of land.

It was the backbreaking labor of unremunerated American slaves in places like South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama. And we also need to qualify the fairy tale we like to tell about capitalism and free labor. Global capitalism is characterized by a whole variety of labor regimes, one of which, a crucial one, was slavery. During its heyday, in fact, slavery was seen as essential to the economy of the Western world.

Slavery did not die because it was unproductive or unprofitable, as some earlier historians have argued. Slavery was not some feudal remnant on the way to extinction.

The Origins of Capitalism and the "Rise of the West"

It died because of violent struggle, because enslaved workers continually challenged the people who held them in bondage—nowhere more successfully than in the s in the French colony of Saint-Domingue now Haiti, site of the first free nation of color in the New World , and because a courageous group of abolitionists struggled against some of the dominant economic interests of their time. A contributing factor in the death of slavery was the fact that it was a system not just of labor exploitation but of rule that drew in particular ways on state power. Southern planters had enormous political power.

They needed it: to protect the institution of slavery itself, to expand its reach into ever more lands, to improve infrastructures, and to position the United States within the global economy as an exporter of agricultural commodities. In time, the interests of the South conflicted more and more with those of a small but growing group of Northern industrialists, farmers and workers.

Able to mobilize labor through wage payments, Northerners demanded a strong state to raise tariffs, build infrastructures conducive to domestic industrialization, and guarantee the territorial extension of free labor in the United States. Afraid that they were losing control over essential levers of power, slaveowners tried to strike out on their own. After the Civil War, a new kind of capitalism arose, in the United States and elsewhere. Yet that new capitalism—characterized first and foremost by states with unprecedented bureaucratic, infrastructural, and military capacities, and by wage labor—had been enabled by the profits, institutions, networks, technologies, and innovations that emerged from slavery, colonialism and land expropriation.

That legacy is still with us today. There are still many open questions about slavery and capitalism, some specific, some broad.

The Origins of Capitalism and the "Rise of the West"

We have not yet conclusively shown, for example, if and how methods of labor control migrated from the world of the plantation to the world of the factory. We need more-detailed research on where the profits from slavery accumulated in Europe and the American North, and how they mattered to other sectors of the economy. We would benefit from a better understanding of how the tight economic connection between Northern entrepreneurs and slavery came to be undone.

Alex Anievas: ‘Rethinking the Origins of Capitalism: Beyond the Eurocentric Cage'

And we have only begun to account for what the rethinking of slavery does to our more general understanding of capitalism. Book Description Mrml, Condition: New.


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Seller Inventory InEx More information about this seller Contact this seller. Seller Inventory Book Description Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. First Indian Edition. Excellent Quality, Service and customer satisfaction guaranteed! We may ship the books from Asian regions for inventory purpose. Dust Jacket Condition: New. He argues that, contrary to established thinking, the "Rise of the West" should not be examined through the lens of the Industrial Revolution or the colonization of the New World but viewed through longterm developments that began in the Middle ages.

Printed Pages: Size: 16 x 24 Cm. Ltd, First edition. He argues that, contrary to established thinking, the "Rise of the West" should not be examined through the lens of the Industrial Revolution or the colonization of the New World but viewed through longterm developments that began in the Middle Ages. He argues that, contrary to established thinking, the? Rise of the West? Seller Inventory BV. The Origins of Capitalism and the Rise of the West. Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

Why Europe? Anti-Eurocentric Theory, History, and the Rise of Capitalism

View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Eric Mielants provides a fresh, interdisciplinary interpretation of the origins of modernity in general and of capitalism in particular. About the Author : Eric H. Review : "A major contribution to the worldwide debate on the origins of the modern world. Buy New Learn more about this copy. Other Popular Editions of the Same Title. Search for all books with this author and title.

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