James Surowiecki on Capitalism - Dictionary of Arguments
Capitalism/Surowiecki: Surowiecki shows an explanation for the emergence of an early far-reaching trading system by the Quakers, who were connected by a network of mutual trust. (1)
The Quakers, for their part, had no access to the free professions because they rejected the Anglican Church. As businessmen, the Quakers became famous for their diligence and accuracy of accounting. They introduced innovations such as fixed prices for goods in order to make trading activities transparent. Thus, the Quakers became sought-after trading partners for heterodox people.
The key term for this development is trust.
Historian Richard Tilly shows that after 1800 merchants in England and Germany came to understand the value of honesty as a source of profit. (2)
Capitalism/Surowiecki: The core element was the orientation towards long-term capital formation instead of the interest in short-term profits. According to Tilly, the economy began to see individual transactions as links in a comprehensive chain of profitable enterprises, rather than as "singular opportunities that must be exploited to the last." (2)
Surowiecki: Trust became impersonal, so to speak. Buying and selling was no longer a matter of personal contact.
Trust could not be maintained over distance without an institutional and legal framework. The high degree of effectiveness of laws and treaties can be measured by the fact that they are rarely invoked.
1. Zum Thema Quäker siehe Jacob M. Price, »The Great Quaker Business Families of 18th Century London«, Overseas Trade and Traders – Essays on Some Commercial, Financial, and Political Challenges Facing British Atlantic Merchants, 1600-1775 (Ashgate, Brookfield, VT, 1996); James Walvin, The Quakers – Money and Morals (Trafalgar Square, London 1998); und Peter Mathias, »Risk, Credit, and Kinship in Early Modern Enterprise«, in: John J. McCusker und Kenneth Morgan (Hrsg.), The Early Modern Atlantic Economy (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2000), S. 15-35.
2. Richard Tilly, »Moral Standards and Business Behavior in Nineteenth-Century Germany and Britain«, in: Jürgen Kocka und Allan Mitchell (Hrsg.), Bourgeois Society in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Berg, Oxford 1998), S. 182 ff._____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
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