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The Inevitability Of Capitalism Essay

1297 words - 5 pages

The exact origin of capitalism is unknown and to precisely trace its inception is, as Joyce Appleby says, a conundrum in itself. However, speculation negating the inevitability of capitalism is an even greater feat and rather fruitless. Appleby’s research and evidence thus far, support a great part of her assumptions retracing the colorful history of capitalism, though her case against its inevitability falls short. The question at hand is whether she provides a compelling case, the answer is yes. However, compelling is not convincing and one must be convinced to provide legitimate support of their argument. Human nature is ingrained within us all and its traits inevitably materialize during the course of our growth as we mature, increase our capacity for intelligence and more importantly, develop our autonomous ability to apply the intelligence that we have accumulated. Thus, the question is a deeper one and the argument is whether aspects of capitalism are really part of our human nature despite a culture that oppresses or conversely, nurtures us. Therefore, I disagree with Appleby’s assumption and submit that there is an existence of inevitability related to the emergence of capitalism.
There is a distinct degree of reprehension conveyed by Appleby in the first chapter; wherein, she expresses disdain for the theories of a revered predecessor of economic thought, Adam Smith. This disdain is evident by the odd manner she appears to take personal offense at the omission of the specifics of struggle related to the birth of capitalism- which she states several times in the chapter. Additionally, it is conveyed that the difficulties involved in bringing about capitalism were overlooked or taken for granted by an idea of its graceful implementation. As if to admit inevitability is to discredit the hard-won accomplishments of the innovators to which most of us owe our livelihoods. On the contrary, the struggle of those early innovators only reinforces the idea that Appleby negates; borrowed from Adam Smith, that man will continually persevere to improve upon his own condition. Appleby doubts this idea by questioning where “Smith got this view of people as fundamentally rational and self-improving?” (20) She defends her argument by pointing out that this idea of human behavior doesn’t align with the characters that Shakespeare created. Firstly, ‘self-improving’ sounds like a cowardly word for self-interest; not a dirty word, but a vital component of capitalism. That being said, the Shakespeare issue should rest, as nearly every character in Hamlet is pretty self-interested by any reasonable standard. Furthermore, if 200 years from now the nature of this generation were gauged solely by the actions of characters in a Stephen King novel for the purpose of a behavioral model, the researchers of the future might conclude the people of this era were prone to madness. Regardless, it seems a rather sophomoric argument against Smith’s prudent theory on the...

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