Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism. By Fernand Braudel; trans- lated by Patricia M. Ranum. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins. Fernand Braudel. Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism. Translated by Patricia M. Ranum. (The Johns Hopkins Symposia in. I think mankind is more than waist-deep in daily routine. Countless inherited acts, accumulated pell-mell and repeated time after time to this.

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Could capitalixm avoid these misfortunes? Around this point mark six to ten dots for villages, all at a distance permitting the peasant to go to the town and return in a single day. Above the enormous mass of daily life, the market economy cast out its nets and kept the network alive. In other words, it created an essentially stable social regime. We must keep this in mind when we ask: Specialization did not occur at the top of the pyramid, for until the nineteenth century the top’level merchant virtually never restricted himself to a single activity.

Such a market chiefly involves producers —peasant men and women and artisans—and clients, some from the market town itself and others from neighboring villages. Countless inherited acts, accumulated pelbmell and repeated time after time to this very day, become habits that help us live, imprison us, and make decisions braudell us throughout our lives. In other social contexts, however, a political hierarchy might crush all other hierarchies; afterthhoughts was the case in the China of the Mings and the Manchus.

Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism

It continued to say no, but eventually it said yes to the overwhelming exigencies of the century. A shop is always open and has the advantage of offering an uninterrupted opportunity for exchange—and for gossip—while the market is only held one or two days a week.


The most astonishing organization of the elemen’ tary market was surely that of China, where it was strictly, almost mathematically, based on geography.

Infant mortality was enormous, as in certain underdeveloped countries today or yesterday, agterthoughts health in general was precar’ ious. In its first great phase, that of the Italian city-states of Venice, Genoa, and Florence, power lay in the hands of the moneyed elite.

Past experiences continue into the present, adding to it. They possessed superior knowledge, intelligence, and culture.

I hope to convince you of this as I dwell at some length upon the changes that occurred in the center—the decenUr – mgs—of the world-economies, ani then upon the subdividing of every world-economy into concentric zones. Within this shadow, within this absence of memory and lucidity, some areas receive less light and some more light than others.

In this there is an element of truth, an element of bad faith, and also some self’deception. From village markets to bourses to a vast economic sector, Braudel traces the evolution of levels of economy, and through them, the rise of the world economy.

A priori, everything should be easy; yet nothing goes well. On the one hand, this was possible because, dunng that period of extremely slow transportation, wide’scale trade involved long delays in the turnover of capital; it took months and sometimes braudfl for afterthoubhts money invested to return swollen with its profits. William Skinner was right: What was involved on each occasion was a shift of the center of gravity of the world economy, for economic reasons that had mr thing whatever to do with the basic or secret nature of capitalism.

Afterthoughts on material civilization and capitalism – Fernand Braudel – Google Books

A world’economy can be described as having three facets: Splendor, wealth, and pleasant living are grouped about the center of the world’economy, at its very heart. However, such mechanisms were developed and used in varying degrees, so that a hierarchy can be seen: In the case of Europe and the zones it annexed, a centering occurred in the s and gave Venice the advantage.


Need I comment that these capitalists, both in Islam and in Christendom, were friends of the prince and helpers or exploiters of the state? I believe, however, that precisely this type of approach may provide a way out of the explanations that, for want of anything better, I have proposed. Until the eighteenth century these two types of activity—the market economy and capitalism —affected only a minority, and the mass of mankind remained encapsulated within the afterthokghts domain of material life.

And if the cotton boom developed over a wide area and continued for a long period, it was because the motor was constantly being refueled by the opening of new markets: Given certain general conditions, according to the resources available to them, and the amount of work to be done, men became too numerous, or not materil enough; the demographic mechanism at’ tempted to remain balanced, but equilibrium was rarely achieved. The phenomenon can be seen by the fourteenth century in Germany, by the thirteenth century in Paris, and by the twelfth century and probably even earlier in Italian cities.

Looking on economy from historical perspective, Braudel provides comprehensive analysis, going well beyond what “economics” offer. A national economy is a political space, transformed by the state as a result of the necessities and innova’ tions of economic life, into a coherent, unified ear nomic space civilizatin combined activities may tend in the same direction.