The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth

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It is the latter which is the hallmark of modern economic growth. The spirit of capitalism, which Hicks emphasized is embodied in the rise of the merchant and a mercantile society, predates the emergence of Promethean growth. The torch of this spirit passed from the Greek city states, the mediaeval Italian city states, the Hanseatic league and Holland to the United Kingdom. Greenfeld recognizes this. So clearly for her, the spirit of capitalism, which she identifies as arising with nationalism in sixteenth-century England, could not be merely the prevalence of this mercantile economy.

But, though perhaps preconditions, these factors did not by themselves generate Promethean growth. It was the spirit of capitalism allied to the switch from an organic to a mineral energy based economy which did, in Holland and then in England — even in their agrarian economies — from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries and then with the scientific revolution in England in the new industrial economy from the eighteenth century that generated Promethean growth. As she rightly notes, the Dutch grew rich through adopting a truly mercantile capitalism which generated Smithian growth.

What she does not emphasize only noting it in passing is that they also saw Promethean growth based on using deposits of peat to convert their organic into a mineral energy based economy see Wrigley.


Their relative decline arose as, unlike the much more abundant mineral energy source in England — coal — the stock of peat was soon exhausted and the Navigation Acts impeded the importation of English coal. Greenfeld, however, attributes the Dutch decline to a failure to foster nationalism. But here is what Angus Maddison whose 13 pages pp. But this nation state did not practice economic nationalism — i.

That, in her view, the Dutch decline was due to their not being economic nationalists i.

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This book is thus ultimately a mercantilist tract. Greenfeld rightly cites the great Eli Heckscher, who in his magisterial book Mercantilism argued that mercantilism was used by the absolute monarchies in Europe after the Renaissance to consolidate their power by incorporating various feuding and seemingly disorderly groups, which constituted the relatively weak states they inherited from the ruins of the Roman empire into a nation.

The most serious consequence for the State was an erosion of its fiscal base and the accompanying prospect of the un-Marxian withering away of the state. Economic liberalization was then undertaken to restore the fiscal base, and thence government control over what had become ungovernable economies. In some cases — as in France — the change only occurred with revolution see Aftalion Her work has appeared in numerous languages.

The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth by Liah Greenfeld - PDF Drive

Contact Us. LOG IN. Liah Greenfeld. Boston University. Furthermore, the suppression of real wage levels, notably in the UK and USA, has encouraged the very dependence on borrowing which has now entered crisis. But an economy which requires systemic debt to maintain expansion is scarcely in a healthy condition.

The real success of neoliberalism has been to transfer wealth and resources to the ruling class and its hangers-on. There are, however, limits to this process. The opportunity provided by opening up the hitherto closed Stalinist economies was a once-and-for-all operation. Similarly, there is a limit to how far wealth can simply be transferred from the public to the private sector; for ultimately this is simply relocating existing money and resources within the system.

But capitalism can only survive through expanding production, not mere personal enrichment. The Necessity for Nationalism in the Neoliberal Order Nationalism is the necessary ideological corollary of capitalism. The capitalist class in its constituent parts has a continuing need to retain territorial home bases for their operations.

Capitalism is based on competition, but capitalists want competition to take place on their terms; they do not want to suffer the consequences if they lose. A global state could not do this; indeed, in this respect it would be the same as having no state at all. For if everyone is protected then no-one is: unrestricted market relations would prevail, with all the risks that entails. The state therefore has to have limits, has to be able to distinguish between those who will receive its protection and those who will not. Without some level of self-delusion, mere gangsterism will result.

  • The Spirit of Capitalism.
  • Nationalism and Economic Growth.
  • USMLE Road Map Pathology (LANGE USMLE Road Maps).
  • The Nationalism Project: Review of The Spirit of Capitalism.
  • The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth - PDF Free Download.

In the course of this competition some will fail. Their failure, however is a contribution to national survival, comparable, perhaps, to the sacrifice of soldiers in the field: competition is the health of the nation, just as war was once held to be the health of the state.

Nationalism does not simply unify territorially demarcated sections of the bourgeois culture; it plays an equally important function for capital in fragmenting the working class. For the working class, nationalism arises from two sources. One is from the spontaneous search for a form of collective identity with which to overcome the alienation of capitalist society. National consciousness is therefore an alternative to class consciousness, but is rarely a complete alternative, since reformism is effectively the means by which nationalism is naturalised in the working class.