‘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.
This chapter moves on to another field of empowering capitalism in the preindustrial age, looking at origins of creativity in manufacturing. It does so through a focus on economic writings and ideas. During the Renaissance, manufacturing became conceptualized as the main source of the wealth of nations. Somewhat unoriginally – given that many other authors had used the example as a case in point before – Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776) commences with the example of a (pin) manufactory. But rather than discussing the full implications in terms of value-added and creativity, Smith chose to proceed by demonstrating that the true origin of wealth lay in the division of labour, improving the distributional efficiency of the existing market systems. But even for a preindustrial economy – Smith’s template of analysis – this wasn’t completely the case; political economy had much more in stock. Smith thus missed a great opportunity – where did the wealth of nations originate?
sophisticated toolkit of using the dynamics of monetary circulation in the economic process, preventing people from being parsimonious and overly thrifty. ‘Money makes the world go round’ thus attains a completely new meaning through a new methodological approach to coins and capitalism. Chapter 7 , ‘Creating Wealth: Homo Manufacturabilis and the Wealth of Nations’, moves on to the third field of empowering capitalism in the preindustrial age, looking at origins of creativity in manufacturing. It does so through a focus on economic writings and ideas. During the