Newtonian capitalism

October 31, 2013

Nicholas Till’s lament for the North Norfolk coastline and for pastoral sentiment in opera is well taken (“Elegy in a country churchyard”, 24 October). The lonely coast at Cley is ever more heavily trod. And opera may well have originated as deeply coded social comment on brutal rural policy: an echo of tragic country lives favoured by the subliminally conscience-stricken urban wives of the rapacious rich.

But the idea that capitalism originated in rural commerce is difficult to swallow. Surely it arose with the Industrial Revolution, when large sums were repeatedly needed to finance new machine industries? Indeed, if anything was responsible for capitalism it was Newton’s dynamics, which provided the wherewithal to predict what any conjectured machine would do - combined with a relatively loose-weave common-law society where money was in the hands of a scattered class.

Chris Ormell
The PER Group

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Reader's comments (1)

Difficult to swallow perhaps, but Marx is fairly conclusive. As is Ellen Meiksins Wood (The Pristine Culture of Capitalism, 1991; The Origin of Capitalism, 2002). Nicholas Till

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

  • Boats docked in Port Hercule, Monaco

Richard Murphy praises a bold effort to halt tax-dodging by the 1 per cent

It’s a question with no easy answer, finds James Derounian

  • James Fryer illustration (19 November 2015)

With no time for proper peer review and with grade inflation inevitable, one academic felt compelled to resign

  • Lisa Mckenzie, Class War Party candidate, Chingford

Anarchist academic reflects on what her recent brush with the law says about threats to academic freedom

  • Worker checks thin-film silicon solar module, Truebbach

Asia doubles representation while European countries face varied performance