- Oct 2011
- Italy, Lago Maggiore
Adam Smith was a thinker who was observing something in development more than a thinker who was inventing a "solution" to a global problem [actually Marx was analyzing the capitalist systems individuating the problems, in his own perspective, suggesting a possible solution, technically he didn't invent Communism ... someone else did]. When we say that he was the father of "modern capitalism" we imply that he didn't invent it ... he suggested how to optimize what existed and what was going to come after him [industrial capitalism came well later and it wasn't a product fo Smith's thought].So you don't consider Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations" from the 1770s to be the Bible of Capitalism? I know he wasn't the first to express many those ideas. Plato was familiar with lending money at interest and was opposed to it. Jesus in the Parable of the Talents said that wealth was to be invested and circulated so that all of society could benefit from it. Hoarding money was therefore a sin. Ancient and Medieval merchants understood the Law of Supply and Demand and frequently tried to raise prices by restricting the supply of certain goods. I once read a piece of Early Medieval hagiography that described a merchant as buying what was common (and cheap) at one place and transporting it someplace else where that good was scarce (and expensive). Capitalism has been described as the natural economy since it only systematizes what people do anyway.
When I say that "capitalism" is a word describing a natural development of some economic systems, I could make several nice examples, but probably my avatar can make us think to Templars.
What did they do for capitalism? They introduced, in large scale, the conception of substitute of capital, a banknote. They weren't the first ones, but they used that "tool" during the crusades. A crusader deposited money c/o a temple in Europe and the local Templars gave him a note, a paper with codes saying that he had deposited a sum of money. The crusader reached the Holy Land and he showed that note to the Templars there. They gave him money, according to what was written on the piece of paper.
This is the principal of the circulation of banknotes: a banknote is a piece of paper representing a value [once it was connected to gold, or an other valuable metal, today to the public debt of a country which issues money].
It was XIII century CE.