Credit conquers the community order

The peasant’s morality and life were rooted in a daily life with maintenance of common fields and forests, and every day cooperation. Trade was based on credit, with a general reckoning held once or twice a year. At this, any tallies which could not be fully settled could be paid in cash. Markets were thus based on trust and social pressure, and were a form of mutual aid.

Cash was reserved for transactions with strangers, and (ominously) between landed gentry, and in the government for war expenses. Thus government saw cash as normal and credit as criminal, while the villagers has the reverse perspective.

Hobbes creates scandal by arguing that the villager’s world would not work, since people pursue their own self interest. Note the word. Interest is the demand that money never cease to grow. Like self-love (as opposed to love of God), Hobbe’s assumption is the Christian one that we are all incorrigible sinners at heart.

The origin of capitalism is the story of the gradual destruction of traditional communities by the impersonal, government enforced, debt and cash based economy. The state legalized intrest-bearing loans, but enforcement was harsh (death sentence, prison, …). So community life became hazardous, since accepting a favor gave the other party power to utterly destroy you.


Posted on February 13, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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