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The Invention of Capitalism: Classical Political Economy and the Secret History of Primitive Accumulation Paperback – May 3, 2000
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After reading Michael Perelman's excellent book we see our world in different colors. The origin of market capitalism is the product of strategies pursued to take away from people the conditions for developing alternative ways to live and produce. We also discover that classical political economy has been so instrumental in guiding these strategies. The book leaves us to wonder how the same mechanisms are reproduced today. This critical question pervades the book.Massimo De Angelis, University of East London --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
One does not have to be particularly leftist appreciate this book. Whether means to capitalist economic development was wrong or a "necessary evil", it's still extremely useful to know that things just didn't evolve naturally out of free exchange. The system was consciously engineered so that the "right sort" of people would be successful, and there's nothing sinister when people, through democratic choice, re-engineer things to bring about a reduction in income inequality, environmental protection, etc.
While not all leaders and thinkers in the 18th century were economists, I have a slight problem with the portrayal of Adam Smith. Now perhaps I've been seduced by his charm, but it seems as though he has a more complex view of the common good. Of course he wasn't a modern leftist or a cultural relativist, but at the same time, he wasn't a William Graham Sumner-style Social Darwinist of the late 1800s either.
"Whenever the legislature attempts to regulate the differences between masters and their workmen, its counsellors are always the masters. When the regulation, therefore, is in favour of the workmen, it is always just and equitable; but it is sometimes otherwise when in favour of the masters.Read more ›
Perelman examines the problem through the eyes of early political economists such as Adam Smith. What he finds is disturbing. Smith and followers generally suppress the real historical conflict, replacing actual coercive measures (game laws, etc.) with imaginary allusions to voluntary choice, as though worker autonomy was willingly swapped for a dependent wage rate. Nonetheless, voluntarism preserves the fiction of an immaculate conversion, and comports with market relations as an irresistable harmonizing force --the Smithian paradigm. However, other early thinkers primarily James Steuart are more candid than Smith, arguing that state intervention is necessary to separate working people from their subsistence, forcing them into the labor pool.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It would be great if this was mandated and required reading for all business and economics students. Read morePublished on October 20, 2013 by PaulArt
Far from being an organization of economic life that benefits all, Michael Perelman shows how capitalism is based on the deprivation and misery of large numbers of peasants who... Read morePublished on July 4, 2013 by C. B. Churchill
not for religious fanatics adoring the magical "free market," or, where would capitalism be without the zealous intervention of governmentPublished on March 26, 2012 by Book Lover
"TheInvention of Capitalism" by Michael Perelman is a little odd. It essentially attempts to combine two books into one: on the one hand, a book proving necessity of the process of... Read morePublished on June 29, 2006 by M. A. Krul