The deeply held religious convictions that kickstarted capitalism (video)

#1
https://aeon.co/videos/the-deeply-held-r...capitalism

INTRO: In his landmark work *The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism* (1905), the German sociologist Max Weber offered a radical and sweeping explanation for the rise of modern capitalism. He saw capitalism arise first in Protestant countries so, contrary to the Marxist explanation, Weber claimed that it was Protestantism that drove the transformation to capitalism. He paid particular attention to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which holds that God determines, at the beginning of time, if each human is saved or damned. How could such a stark theological idea lead to capitalism? According to Weber, it introduced an extraordinarily productive tension into human society. While people could not change their souls’ fate, they could hope to see evidence that they might be among the saved through the discipline and fruitfulness of their labour. This brief animation from BBC Radio 4’s A History of Ideas series explores how Calvinism sanctified work, making everyday labour, for the first time in history, a potentially holy activity...

MORE (video): https://aeon.co/videos/the-deeply-held-r...capitalism
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#2
No. Capitalism is related to Christians ideals because it exemplifies freedom.
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#3
(Nov 16, 2017 07:56 AM)C C Wrote: In his landmark work *The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism* (1905), the German sociologist Max Weber offered a radical and sweeping explanation for the rise of modern capitalism. He saw capitalism arise first in Protestant countries so, contrary to the Marxist explanation, Weber claimed that it was Protestantism that drove the transformation to capitalism.

I'm still not sure what "capitalism" is. It's one of those words (like "liberal") that everyone uses but nobody defines. But it seems to me that the market system (and private enterprise) is ancient and long predates Christianity, is found worldwide and has little or nothing to do with Protestantism. (I do think that Protestantism inadvertently gave rise to secular modernity, but that's a different story.)

If it means "corporations", the huge, wealthy and powerful "companies" of 17th century mercantilist economic enterprise (the Dutch East India Company, Hudson's Bay Company and so on), I'd be more inclined to see that historical development as the product of the rise of the merchant middle class (the hated "bourgeoisie" of Marxist mythology) midway between the landed aristocracy and the rural peasantry. Their gradual rise dates back to medieval times. The merchants, craftsmen and professional types came to dominate the new cities in the early modern period and proved to be far more productive than the feudal aristocrats on their estates. Wealth tended to accumulate in their hands. I don't see that necessarily as a Protestant innovation. It's as visible in 15th century Catholic Florence as it is in the 17th century Protestant Netherlands. So why did the bourgeoisie of northwestern Europe succeed in jumping out into a leadership position?
 
Quote:He paid particular attention to the Calvinist doctrine of predestination, which holds that God determines, at the beginning of time, if each human is saved or damned. How could such a stark theological idea lead to capitalism? According to Weber, it introduced an extraordinarily productive tension into human society. While people could not change their souls’ fate, they could hope to see evidence that they might be among the saved through the discipline and fruitfulness of their labour.

Every history textbook tells (but doesn't necessarily endorse) that story, but it sounds exceedingly fanciful and speculative to me. (It's probably useful to remember that most Protestants aren't Calvinists.)

I find another account found in every history book is more plausible. During the late medieval and renaissance years, Italian city states (and Venice in particular) dominated trade with the Muslim east by their naval control of the Mediterranean. But in the 15th and 16th centuries, the rise of the Ottoman Turks cut off that trade. And about the same time the 'voyages of discovery' moved the center of trade away from the northern shore of the Mediterranean (where it had been since Roman times) towards the Atlantic coast of Europe, initially in hopes of sailing around the Muslim bottleneck. Spain, Portugal, France, England and the Netherlands rose to new prominence and accumulated colonial empires spreading across the planet. They plundered the New World and found their way around Africa to reach India and eventually China and Japan. Wealth flowed into the urban merchant classes of these countries while Southern and Eastern Europe became relative backwaters.
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