The Invention and Development of Capitalism

One of the most important and influential concepts that have changed the human world is capitalism. It is impossible to overestimate the influence and importance of capitalism on society, economy, culture and science. Capitalism is one of the social and economic developments existing in the world. The history of its capitalism formation is connected with such phenomena as colonial expansion and the exploitation of workers, for whom a large workweek and dissatisfying working conditions was becoming the norm.

As a rule, many historians agree that capitalism originates in Western Europe in the 16th-18th centuries. In particular, capitalism has its roots in Great Britain and the Benelux countries. The latter today include Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Why capitalism originated there and not in Asia, China or India is the subject of intense and lengthy discussion (Sassoon, 2021). During the described period, China and India were compared to Western Europe in economic development. As an explanation, for example, the contempt felt by the Chinese elite for practical pursuits such as trade and industry has been suggested. There is an idea that the maps of the coalfields of Great Britain and the fact of the discovery of America influenced. However, the certain historical point is that capitalism began to develop in Western Europe.

The development of the money economy provides additional opportunities for exploitation. It becomes possible to collect taxes in cash and specialize their economy, produce one product of agricultural products intended for sale, or even organize the production of a manufactory type on their lands (Heller, 2019). In some cases, this leads to the revival of the practice of enslaving peasants and developing measures of non-economic coercion. This evolution led to a kind of re-feudalization in the 16th century. They were expressed in the crisis of the Renaissance culture, developed based on free cities, especially the cities of northern Italy. In most Western European countries, the still weak commercial and industrial class until the middle of the 18th century. Quite consolidated and successfully carrying out economic activities, privileged classes are opposed.

The privileged strata, successfully carrying out economic activity based on new forms of exploitation, did not consider money as capital and did not seek to acquire to increase capital itself. Money instead acted for them as a further indicator of wealth, a universal means of payment that could be used to develop the same feudal property – land and forest land, and consumption purposes. The spirit of the economy was not at all inherent in this category of the population.

The development of capitalism in the countries of Western Europe and their colonies in the 19th century is often associated with the spread of free trade and the free market. It is generally accepted that the governments of these states did not tax or restrict international trade (called free trade). In any way and did not interfere with the functioning of the market, which forms a free market (Patnaik & Patnaik, 2021). This state of affairs led to these countries’ ability to develop capitalism. It is often assumed that the United Kingdom and the United States set the pace because they were the first to embrace the free market and free trade. Strong government, on the other hand, played a key role in the early stages of growing capitalism in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other Western European countries. Thus, the strong government determined the emergence of capitalism rather than the existence of financial benefits.

In summary, capitalism arose for various reasons stemming from the socio-economic development of Europe. As a means of destroying the shackles of many social groups and classes, capitalism had problems. Oppression and colonialism have become negative consequences of capitalism. However, it is precisely the ambiguity of capitalism that speaks of its vast and profound history and culture as an invention.


Heller, H. (2019). A Marxist history of capitalism. Routledge.

Patnaik, U., & Patnaik, P. (2021). Capital and imperialism: Theory, history, and the present. Monthly Review Press.

Sassoon, D. (2021). The anxious triumph: A global history of capitalism, 1860–1914. Penguin.

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