Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism (The by Fernand Braudel

By Fernand Braudel

"In this concise book... Braudel summarizes the extensive issues of his three-volume Civilisation materielle et capitalisme, 1400-1800 and gives his reflections at the historian's craft and at the nature of the historic imagination... Taken as an entire, the publication is provocative and stimulating. every so often, it rises to revelation while or 3 sentences of compressed yet tremendous prose strength us to re-examine the occasions of a complete century or the heritage of a continent." -- American ancient evaluate.

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Financial capitalism only succeeded in the nineteenth century, after the period 1830-60, when the banks grabbed up everything, both industry and merchandise, and when the economy in general was strong enough to support this edifice permanently. Let me summarize. There are two types of exchange: one is down-ta-earth, is based on competition, and is almost transparent; the other, a higher form, is sophisticated and domineering. Neither the same mechanisms nor the same agents govern these two types of acti vi ty, and the capitalist sphere is located in the higher form.

Not just anyone could join the group. By contrast, local commerce was divided up among a multitude of participants. For example, in the sixteenth century the total presumed monetary value of Portuguese domestic trade, taken as a whole, was far superior to that of the pepper, spice, and drug trades. But this domestic trade often took the form of barter, of use value. The spice trade formed a part of the main line of the monetary economy. And only large merchants conducted such trade and concentrated within their • "le ,ommerce d·lnd.

At an early date, from the very beginning, they went beyond "national" boundaries and were in touch with merchants in foreign commercial centers. These men knew a thousand ways of rigging the odds in their favor: the manipulation of credit and the profitable game of good money for bad, with the "good" silver or gold coins being used for major transactions to build up Capital and the "bad" copper pieces being used for the lowest salaries and for daily wages, in other words, for Labor. They possessed superior knowledge, intelligence, and culture.

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