Sunday, January 03, 2021

NW Europeans invented the market economy

I mentioned theories about how the European invention of individuality may have predated Christianity.

Now anthropologist Peter Frost writes:

Some say the "Western European Marriage Pattern" began with Western Christianity — what would become Roman Catholicism and, later, Protestantism. By forbidding cousin marriages and by framing morality in terms of universal rules, the Western Church laid the basis for a new civilization (Schulz et al. 2019). Others say this pattern goes farther back in time; the Western Church thus assimilated pre-existing social norms from its northwest European converts (Frost 2017; Frost 2020).

Whatever the cause, northwest Europeans possess a behavioral package that has helped them create larger social networks independently of kinship. One example is the market economy. Keep in mind the distinction between "market economy" and "markets." The latter are as old as history, and yet for most of history they were little more than marketplaces — pockets of economic activity limited in time and space, incapable of becoming the main organizing principle of society. That role was filled by kinship. Production of goods for a market was secondary to the reproduction of life for one’s family and kin group.

The market economy did not originate in the markets of Greece and Rome. It ultimately goes back to the North Sea communities of the seventh century. There, trade underwent a sustained expansion that would in time eclipse trade on the Mediterranean, eventually creating the current global economy (Callmer 2002, see also Barrett et al. 2004).

A visitor to Earth a few millenium ago might have thought that modern civilization would first arise in China, India, Persia, or Egypt. But NW Europe passed up everybody in the several centuries. Then the USA passed them up. Academics commonly attribute this to Age of Enlightenment. Its supporters "hail it as the source of everything that is progressive about the modern world. For them, it stands for freedom of thought, rational inquiry, critical thinking, religious tolerance, political liberty, scientific achievement, the pursuit of happiness, and hope for the future." However history shows that NW Europe started leaping ahead many centuries earlier. The previous Dark Ages laid the seeds for individualism, Christianity, rationalism, and the market economy. Frost goes on to relate this to nationalism, liberalism, and globalism.
The liquidation of the nation-state was a process, not a point in time. Over the twentieth century our national elites went global and lost any loyalty they once had to the old working class of the West, eventually viewing it as an anachronism. After weighing the costs and benefits, they concluded it should be replaced with cheaper labor from other sources. The old working class has thus been caught in a vice. On the one hand, high-paying jobs are outsourced to low-wage countries; on the other hand, low-wage labor is insourced for those jobs that cannot be outsourced, typically in services and construction. The result? Non-elite individuals have seen their wages stagnate throughout the West, particularly in the United States. And the peoples of the West are being progressively replaced, even in their ancestral homelands.

Well, so what? Yes, they created the concept of the market economy, but that concept no longer belongs exclusively to them and no longer requires their existence. So why should they continue to exist?

The elites benefit from these shifts. The rich are richer than ever. But why would the American middle class go along with such a destructive scheme? It all seems like a stupid Netflix movie.

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