‘Commerce and manufactures gradually introduced order and good government,’ wrote Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations, ‘and with them, the liberty and security of individuals.’ However, Philipp Rössner shows how, when looked at in the face of history, it has usually been the other way around.
This book follows the development of capitalism from the Middle Ages through the industrial revolution to modern day, casting new light on the areas where pre-modern political economies of growth and development made a difference. It shows how order and governance provided the foundation for prosperity, growth and the wealth of nations.
Written for scholars and students of economic history, this is a pioneering new study that debunks the neoliberal origin myth of how capitalism came into the world.
processes. 8 There was considerable enthusiasm sported by economic writers during the 1770s about agriculture as the true basis for the wealth of nations, in an era that saw one of the last grave hunger crises of the old type sweep across Europe. 9 Historically, though, the origins of wealth had lain in manufacturing and manufactories as engines of capitalism; crucial to making the European industrial miracle and contributing to a Schumpeterian culture of growth. 10 As Thomas Mun, one of the early so-called ‘mercantilists’ had argued around 1620 (his book would not be
shot through with social and political dynamics, as well as painful asymmetries that gave rise to social conflicts ( Chapter 5 ). Money could also be deployed as a tool promoting the quickness of economic life ( Chapter 6 ). Manufacturing and manufactories were key to these processes of dynamics, representing key pillars of capitalist development since the Renaissance. Similar to the webs of finance and exchange (financial markets will not be studied in the present book), colonialism and overseas trade, also marked out by historians as ‘drivers’ of preindustrial
to fully adapt, notions of manufacturing in workhouses or factories, which added another dynamic, as manufacturing and manufactories were widely understood to be a dynamic tool for economic development, which we will revisit in Chapter 8 . Johann Joachim Becher (1635–82) – physicist, mercantilist and alchemist – became famous for his ambitious project of setting up an East India Company for the Counts of Hanau, some third- or fourth-rank princes in the Holy Roman Empire. 91 As illusionary perhaps was the Scottish West Indian company project at Darien, yet