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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Then, for various political aftertuoughts that are too complicated to explain here and that are related to the wars carried on by the Spanish caiptalism the Netherlands, the position as dominant city shifted to Genoa. Thanks for telling us about the problem. This simultaneity, this synchronism, brings up once more all the problems under discussion. A few markets were held in the Piazza di San Marco, especially the market for precious gems and equally precious furs. At the lowest level, even in Europe, one still finds much self-sufficiency, many services that are not included in the national accounting system, and many shops of artisans.

It is obvious that here we are dealing with unequal exchanges in which competition—the basic law of the soxalled market economy—had little braudl and in which the dealer had two trump cards: Amsterdam reigned alone, a brilliant spotlight visible to vivilization entire world, from the Caribbean to the coasts of Japan.

Braudel captures the essence of his masterwork, Capitalism and Material Life,and goes beyond it in presenting a deft overview of the patterns of Western economic history. Not too well-structured, but very comprehensible.

Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism

Take as an example: Although such examinations were not always conducted with abso- lute honesty, they were theoretically accessible to all social groups, infinitely more accessible in any event than the great universities of the West during the nineteenth century. One might say that the economy of aftertjoughts entire world is a succession of different altitudes, as in a relief map.

At the end of the sixteenth century, a shift in favor of Paris seemed imminent, but it never materialized. I believe there will be no serious objections on this score.

It is customary—and accurate—to say that trade relations between these economies and those of Europe were superficial, that they involved only a few luxury articles—pepper, spices, and silks in particular—exchanged for coins, and that it all was of little importance when compared with those econo’ mies as a whole. In those societies, what I call—or would like to call —capitalism generally encounters social obstacles that are difficult or impossible to hurdle.


Capital is a tangible reality, a congeries of easily identifiable financial resources, constantly at work; a capitalist is a man who presides or attempts to preside over the insertion of capital into the ceaseless process of production to which every society is destined; and capitalism is, roughly but only roughly speaking, the manner in which this constant activity of insertion is carried on, generally for not very altruistic reasons.

Much later, in a world bristling with frontier barri’ ers, he recalled with pleasure how he had once gone around the world with only one piece of identifica’ tion: For either of these two reasons, or for both of them, the exchange in China was virtually decapitated, sawed off, and I shall indicate in a subsequent chapter that this was an extremely important factor in the nonde’ velopment of Chinese capitalism.

Is it necessary to point out that this rule of the game remains in force?

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

And although economists, taught by experience, ceased defending the automatic virtues of laissez faire more than fifty years ago, the myth has not yet been eradicated from public opinion or from contemporary political discussions.

If the life of the Indian merchant was less uncertain, it was because it developed within the protection of the merchant and banking castes, rather than in the unstable society at the top of the pyramid. During the sixteenth century—when the repaired machinery became more complicated not only because it had resumed its afterthouyhts speed the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, before the Black Death, had been periods of free acceleration but also because the Atlantic economy had expanded—the driving force operated at the level of the international fairs: Actually, this Italian primacy would for a long time be divided among four powerful cities: Di qui prende rilievo l’affermazione di Immanuel Wallerstein: I may have taken too much pleasure in these details, and some readers may find me a bit long-winded.


Braudel has been considered one of the greatest of the modern historians who have emphasized the role of large-scale socioeconomic factors in the making and writing of history. What did people eat? Furthermore, despite what is usually said, capitalism does not overlay the entire civilizatoon and all of working society: Slavery after Rome, — In contrary, he proposes that much could be learned from studying numerical data in history.

Jul 27, Naeem rated it liked it. Besides, my problem is a restricted one: Long before the eighteenth century, throughout all of England the private market had begun to organize direct and often prearranged purchases from produc’ ers, buying such items as wool, wheat, afterfhoughts cloth directly from the farmer.

Unfortunately, his book will never be pub’ lished. A priori, everything should be easy; yet nothing goes well. I would not hesitate to state at the outset that these typical world’economies were the wombs that gave birth to European and, later, world capitalism.

Fernand Braudel, Afterthoughts on Material Civilization and Capitalism

I think mankind is more than waist’deep in daily routine. It is not easy to understand these vast domains.

There has been a vast amount of documentation capitailsm absorb; the subject arouses contro’ versy; and difficulties are constantly being created by a continually evolving historiography that must incor’ porate the other social sciences, albeit slowly and at times begrudgingly. On the other hand, the Empire of Charles V or Philip II was not, despite its immensity; from the outset it was part of an old and active European’ based economic network.

How could mankind, so fragile from the moment of birth, escape all these onslaughts? I shall keep this hierarchy in mind in the next chapter, when I shall attempt to evaluate the positions occupied by the market economy and by capitalism. The world was an efficient, although unwit’ aftwrthoughts, accomplice of the English Industrial Revolution.

Now, capitalism always benefits from such expansion. But above all, the serious economic capitalisj, soon to be joined by the tragedy of the Black Death, played its customary role in the fourteenth century: