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August 22, 2007

Capitalism Is In Our Genes? Economist Argues English Industrial Success Due To Most of Population Being Descendants of the Rich, and Therefore Innately Capitalist And Productive

The rich greatly out-bred the poor in England from 1200 to 1800, he argues, thus leaving England in a uniquely strong position to take advantage of the incredible new rewards to be gained from success in the post-1800 Industrial Age. (Note that other countries also experienced this rich-outbreeding-the-poor phenomenon; in England it was just especially pronounced.)

Obviously this is a pretty provocative thesis, and may even be pure crank.

Interesting, though.

What does this mean for the modern world? Societies that went straight from the hunter-gatherer state to the modern economy may have historically rooted, cultural disadvantages in competing in a capitalist world. This may explain the difficulty groups such as Australian Aborigines have had in successfully incorporating into the capitalist economy. It could even explain why industrialists in sub-Saharan economies such as Zambia are importing Chinese workers into mines and factories, despite having to pay them more than local labour.

Finally, one puzzle of modern affluent societies is that while we have an abundance of goods, we have a poverty of leisure compared with hunter-gatherers. Indeed, the higher income a person has, the less leisure he has. Our poverty of leisure has been blamed on advertisers producing endless wants. But the true source of our compulsion to work, even when all conceivable material needs are met, may lie in our ancestors’ passage through a preindustrial world that rewarded a compulsion to work and accumulate with reproductive success. We may be prisoners of a history that makes us unable to enjoy the fruits of our modern economic success.

Those two points seem to be the least important and least provocative of all this theory's implications.

Thanks to someone.

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posted by Ace at 07:16 PM

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