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Notes on Economic History (2)

The Mercantile System

This was the beginning of the modern era. A new form of economic practice was developing, and new theories made their appearance in the form known as Mercantilism. This term (introduced by Adam Smith) is, however, a little misleading for its advocates were quite as concerned with industrial development as with the exchange of merchandise.

The term "Mercantile system" is loosely used to denote all the principles applied by the governments and traders of those days—though it is a fact that these principles have a general conformity. Mercantilism was a growth of its time. It was a system of political absolutism and centralization in favour of the burghers and mobile capital, to the detriment of the lords of the soil. To throw light on this we must glance at the economic process of this period.

Who Needs Money?

We live in a society where almost everything is bought and sold. That which you need in order to live is a commodity; you must buy it from someone who will make a profit out of selling it to you. Our minds are dominated by money. It is our passport to existence. No money, no access to what we need. Too little money, no comfort. Money drives people crazy: contrary to the words of the song, money does not make the world go round—money makes the world go mad.

Book Review: 'Marx on Money'

'Marx on Money', by Suzanne de Bronhoff, Urizen Books (New York). 139 pages. Paperback £2.70, hardback £4.70. (Republished in 2015)

This book attempts to bring together and comment on Marx's writings on money and credit, and to relate them to other monetary theories.

It can serve a purpose to students of Marx who are already familiar with his main economic theories but it suffers from two defects, one of presentation and the other an astonishing omission.


Ice Age Art

Dear Editors

Thank you very much for forwarding the copy of the review (Mixed Media, September). It is great to read a piece in which the Marxist arguments are remembered and there are certainly excellent discussions to be had on these themes. More information on the topics mentioned can be found in the book that accompanied the exhibition. In both I tried to get away from the notion that these societies were ‘primitive’ or ‘savage’ as this is the language of the nineteenth century used to place modern western Europeans at the top of the evolutionary tree. The language of Marx and Engels that pursues evolution from savagery to barbarism and then civilization also need to be brought up to date with modern knowledge. It also sought to avoid the concept of Rousseau’s noble savage that is also inherent in the Marxist approach.

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