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Skeletal framework for the economic evolution
     of Western Civilization
 

     For Quiz # 3, you should be able to draw and expand on the
skeletal framework below (based on class discussions):
 

Collapse of Roman Empire --> self-sufficient manorialism &
feudalism --> mercantilism  --> laissez-faire capitalism -->
socialism --> communism.
 

     There is also an alternative path coming out of 19th-century
laissez-faire capitalism:

laissez-faire capitalism --> regulated capitalism --> welfare-state
capitalism.
 

     Here are some quick thoughts on this diagram:

     #  Mercantilism replaced manorialism and feudalism starting
about the 1400s. One reason was the rebirth of trade and the growth
of a monetarized economy.

     # A major reason for the rise of mercantilism was the need of
newly created monarchies for gold and silver, so that kings could
fund the creation of large bureaucracies and large armies. In
France, the finance minister to Louis XIV in the late 1600s, was
one of the first in Western Civilization to push mercantilism. He
taxed farmers ad used the proceeds to subsidize commerce and
industry. He wanted to greatly expand French industry so as to
greatly increase French manufactured exports. In this way, he
believed he could create an inflow of gold to France, thereby
providing the resources for the king to fight wars and to expand
the French bureaucracy and court.

     # Mercantilism was succeeded by laissez-faire capitalism both
in France and England and other European countries. Why? Both
Francois Quesnay and France and Adam Smith in Great Britain argued
that mercantilism was highly inefficient. both Quesnay and Smith
believed that the economy was governed by natural laws and that
government attempts to manage the economy as under mercantilism
threw a monkey wrench into the smooth workings of the economy.
Both believed that the government should let the economy run itself
-- no subsidies to industry, no tariff protection, no restrictions
on trade, etc.

     # Karl Marx (1818-1883) was a German historian and economist,
one of the most influential thinkers of the past 150 years. He
spend most of his adult years researching and writing in the
British Museum, in London, supported by his wealthy friend
Friedrich Engels.

     Marx was very angry about the brutal way in which the
bourgeois factory owners of Europe ruthlessly exploited the
proletarian factory workers. He believed that ultimately the
proletarians would revolt and overthrow the exploitative capitalist
system. Capitalism would be replaced by socialism, the government
ownership of all major businesses. Eventually, an advanced stage of
socialism would emerged, governed by the concept: "from each
according to his abilities, to each according to his needs."

     But as it turned out, many countries in the west never were
overthrown by a socialist revolution. A major reason is that
laissez-faire capitalism was transformed into a regulated
capitalism in the period between 1885-1920 (e.g. government
regulations as part of the Progressive Era in the U.S. -- e.g.
regulation of railroad rates, regs against trusts, regs against
child labor, regs governing hours of work and workplace safety,
meat inspection act, etc.). Concern about the well-being of workers
also got a big boost during the New Deal from 1933-1938 in the U.S.

     Why did not a socialist revolution not take place in many
western countries? Because the governments of those countries
moderated the worst aspects of laissez faire capitalism.  Said
another way, many western governments underwent a shift from
classical liberalism (government for and by the upper bourgeoisie)
more in the direction of radical government (government at least in
part for the interests of the proletarian classes).

     Major socialist revolutions did take place in the 20th century
in these countries (and many others): Russia (1917), China (1949),
and Cuba (1959-61). See class discussions on Russia and Cuba.