Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism (The by Fernand Braudel

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By Fernand Braudel

"In this concise book... Braudel summarizes the huge topics 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 ancient imagination... Taken as a complete, the booklet is provocative and stimulating. now and again, it rises to revelation while or 3 sentences of compressed yet extraordinary prose strength us to re-evaluate the occasions of a complete century or the background of a continent." -- American old overview.

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Extra info for Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism (The Johns Hopkins Symposia in Comparative History)

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He deposi ted 2, ()()() piasters in cash wi th a banker at Basra, who gave him a "letter in the lingua franca" to a banker at Aleppo. In theory he should have made a profit, but he did not gain as much as he was entitled to. No one wins every time. In summary, when compared with the economies of the rest of the world, the European economy seems to have been more developed thanks to its superior instruments and tools: the bourse and various forms of credit. But without exception, all the mechanisms and 34 AFrERTHOUGHTS ON MATERIAL LIfE expedients of the exchange can be found outside Europe.

I believe, first, that the merchant did not specialize because no one branch of the commerce available to him was sufficiently developed to absorb all his energy. It has too often been accepted that the capitalism of the past was small because it lacked capital; that it took a long time to accumulate sufficient capital for capitalism to blossom. In fact, the correspondence of merchants and the memoranda of chambers of commerce reveal capital sums looking vainly to be invested. Lacking other and more profitable places for investment, the capitalist would be tempted to acquire land, a safe investment and one that conferred social distinction, but sometimes he would also buy land that could be farmed in a modern manner and become a source of substantial income, as was the case in England, the Venetian state, and elsewhere.

First of all, certain mechanisms occurring between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries are crying out for a name all their own. When we look at them closely, we see that fitting them into a slot in the ordinary market economy would be almost absurd. One word does come spontaneously to mind: capitalism. Irritated, one shoos it out the door, and almost immediately it climbs in through the window. There 45 AFfERTHOUGHTS is no adequate substitute for this word, and that fact alone is symptomatic.

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