Why did capitalism arise in Britain?
- Britain inherited technologies accumulated from the Renaissance onward, gathered experience in management, navigation developed in the 16th century, trade, and the advantageous consequences of colonization.
- a United Kingdom was founded whose basic policy was to protect the expansion of commercial interests
- The United Kingdom expanded immensely through colonization. However, the goal was not to establish a Roman style empire like Napoleon, but to establish a Greek style colonial order which was relatively independent of the mother country.
- Business adopted the form of monopolistic companies (the East Indian company, the South China Sea company, etc.), consisting mostly of entrepreneurially-minded aristocrats. In the mid 19th century, Mill emphasized in his works that it was not appropriate for the state to manage business directly. These had in fact been standard British government views since the 17th century.
- (China was just the opposite, with monopolies in salt and iron from the Han Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty. Traditionally, all these enterprises were controlled and managed by the central government).
- The effects of different approaches to war. The Napoleonic war, won by England and lost by France, was Gu Zhun's example. France, whose historical heritage was in many ways similar to Britain's, adopted standard dynastic policies. Virtually without exception these led to the suppression of development. In Britain, on the other hand, wars led to the accumulation of wealth, leading ultimately to the industrial revolution.
Imperialism (the "highest level of capitalism," according to Lenin) failed to follow the path predicted by Lenin, just as capitalism had not developed according to the predictions of Karl Marx.
Marx had predicted inevitable demise of capitalism, on the grounds that:
- The core of capitalism ⇒ multiplication of capital ⇒ high profit ⇒ lower wages ⇒ insufficient consumption ⇒ creates panic;
- Moreover, when the organic composition of capital increases, the commensurable surplus value performance for the increasingly lowed capital profit margin. Thus, the margin profit on capital tends to zero: capitalism cannot persist in the long run and will die eventually;
- In social structural terms, capital tends to be centralised. As more and more capitalists are deprived, contradictions between capital and private ownership will increase. Socialism will finally only require a slight effort.
- These predictions were belied by the realities of the early 20th century, making it necessary for Lenin to offer a modified theory. Unfortunately, this too failed to be confirmed. The Great Depression that followed the economic crisis of 1929 (the third "international" general crisis of the 1930s) encouraged a rediscovery of Marx. Now 40 years had gone by (i.e. to the time of Gu Zhun's writing), but no repeat of the Great Depression has taken place and it was unlikely that it ever would. Why?
The reason for capitalism's great vitality is, apart from new technology, products and materials; and big companies, governments and trade union; and in addition to its pluralistic philosophy, academic freedom and democratic politics, is that it did not limit, but tried to develop critique. Capitalism may be a pile of evil, but this fact is constantly exposed, and given unceasingly attention. Improvements great or small can thus be made. Hence, capitalism was enabled to continue; "…I see that the capitalism cannot be extinguished through violent revolution, because of its improvement through critique . …"