By Michel Beaud

The conquest of the Americas inaugurated the sluggish accumulation of assets and the imperceptible structural differences that culminated within the business Revolution. From that second on, capitalism grew and extended with a dynamism and flexibility which are now all too normal, benefiting from wars or even dealing with to rebound after a sequence of devastating fiscal crises.

In this highly-anticipated revised variation of the 1981 vintage, Beaud extends one of many significant strengths of the unique: the interweaving of social, political, and fiscal components within the context of background. whilst, Beaud's research presents a pragmatic and thorough exam of the advancements of capitalism within the final two decades, together with globalization, the accelerating velocity of capital move, and the cave in of the Soviet empire and the next absorption of its inhabitants into the realm marketplace. This new version additionally deals a very revised structure that integrates diagrams and flow-charts now not formerly on hand within the English-language variation.

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Additional resources for A History of Capitalism, 1500-2000

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It appears that early capitalism faced considerable difficulty in persuading people to adopt regular, disciplined employment, and that resistance to full-time work persisted well into the twentieth century, particularly in industrial sectors that had traditionally relied on casual labourers. The history of capitalism is a history involving the gradual reconciliation of individuals with the sacrifices of the working day. This was not a smooth process, but a struggle requiring a severe restructuring of workers’ habits: ‘In all these ways – by the division of labour; the supervision of labour; fines; bells and clocks; money incentives; preachings and schoolings; the suppression of fairs and sports – new labour habits were formed’ (Thompson, 1967: 90).

The value of historical perspectives is that they allow us to achieve some critical distance from the current work-centred state of affairs. Weeks suggests that Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism is particularly valuable in this regard, with its references to periods before and after the heyday of the Protestant work ethic inviting readers to grasp the peculiarity of modern society’s attachment to work. Readers are invited to reflect forwards, and consider the lofty status of work from the standpoint of the values inherent in the old, traditional society.

Unless humans can acquire the scope to direct them towards humane, societal ends, the savings in free-time provided by capitalism’s productive development are essentially meaningless. A politics of time is necessary because ‘the development of the productive forces may, of itself, reduce the amount of labour that is necessary [but] it cannot, of itself, create the conditions which will make this liberation of time a liberation for all’ (Gorz, 1989: 185). Gorz himself is perhaps best known for advocating a proposal for a politically co-ordinated reduction of working hours, to take place on a society-wide scale.

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A History of Capitalism, 1500-2000 by Michel Beaud
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