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UCI EUROST 10 - Capitalism

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Professor Smith European Studies Department Europe Studies 10 European History Course Code: 24000 ■ What is driving capitalism? ● Greed and avarice? ● The accumulation of capital? A banking system? Trade? ● Individuals succeeding? ● Yes, but more is needed ● What is the relation between these aspects of the economic system and the “attitude” that turns these aspects into full-blown capitalism? ● See page 9 or p.11 on “ascetic” attitude ○ What is asceticism? ● “Severe self-discipline and avoidance of indulgence, often for religious reasons” ■ The necessary conditions ● What conditions foster the development of modern capitalism? ● “...the spirit of capitalism was present before the capitalistic order” ● Hence, the “revolutionary process” of capitalism cannot be explained in strictly economic terms but needed “the spirit of capitalism” ● Defined as: ○ “Temperate self-control”, a set of “ethical qualities” ● In sum: ○ for capitalism to develop it needed an ethos, an attitude, a “spirit”, that encouraged hard work and asceticism for their own sakes ■ Only they could overcome “traditionalism” ● And where did this attitude or spirit come from? ● Protestant theology ■ “Rationalization” ● What is “rationalization” can we see that is connected to capitalism? ● “Time is money” - this leads to thinking about efficiency ● Can we explain capitalism merely by appealing to this phenomenon ● Clearly it is important, but what (for weber) is behind the king of thinking? ■ More historical examples ● Women workers of pietist (strict protestant) background ● Florence vs. “backwoods pennsylvania” (13)○ What’s the difference between these two places in terms of the development of capitalism? ● Florence has all the conditions (banking, trade, capital...) but is lacking what? ■ Time and Place ● Where and when does capitalism emerge in Europe? ● Northern europe: germany, england, and especially holland ● What is different about these countries, as opposed to those of southern europe ○ France ○ Spain ○ Italy ● Protestant vs. catholic ● Holland, in particular, is calvinist ■ John Calvin ● 1509- 1564 ● Younger than luther ● Helped to systematize protestant thought into a theology ● Stronger belief in “predetermination” or predestination and the absolute sovereignty of god over salvation ● Believed in “the elect” who are saved ● Published the institutes of the christian religion ● Had a community of believers in geneva ● Thus, although he (like luther) believed in the separation of church and state, he did try to model a kind of city-state on his ideas ● Influential later for Jean-jacques Rousseau’s political philosophy ● A fierce split developed within Protestantism between the Lutherans and the “reformed” church of Calvin ■ Calvin’s core beliefs ● The only path to knowledge of god is through scripture ● God’s providence determines the fate of the world and our souls ○ The saved are the “elect” ● Humanity is fallen and in need of salvation ● Images of god lead to idolatry-> iconoclasm ■ Influence ● Major influence on the “puritans”, who left holland for England and then came to the “New World” ● Their communities not unlike Calvin’s ● Hence, the development of capitalism in “backwoods Pennsylvania” ● Does Calvinism still resonate in American political rhetoric? ● American “exceptionalism” ○ As if “chosen”, “destined” to be great ○ “If you’re poor, you’re a loser...” ● “Prosperity theology”● Thanks to protestism in general, capitalism tended to take off in the northern european countries ● Thanks to calvinism in particular, the netherlands and later the north american colonies developed capitalism the most ■ Dutch art celebrating dutch society ● Vermeer, the painter and his model ● A nation forged in the crucible of violence: ○ dutch history at a glance ■ 1516: charles 1 of spain takes control of the netherlands ■ 1517: martin luther posts his 95 theses in germany - reformations begin ● Dutch protestants are burned at the stake ■ 1519: charles 1 becomes holy roman emperor, charles v ■ 1540: emperor charles v violently suppresses uprising over spanish teaxes in flanders ■ 1556: charles v hands control of the netherlands to his son, king phillip 2 of spain ■ 1568: william 1, dutch prince of orange, leads to revolt against spanish rule and is declared an outlaw ● The holy office condemns all inhabitants of the netherlands to death as heretics; the 80 years war begin (dutch revolt) ■ 1572: william of orange becomes viceroy of holland, friesla utrecht: meanwhile, the town of naarden surrenders to the spanish, the town is burned and all residents are massacred ■ 1576: spanish mutineers continue to burn and pillage dutch towns ● The provinces of the netherlands unite to oppose spanish violence and maintain peace ■ 1579: the treaty of utrecht is signed, creating the dutch republic ■ 1580: catholic worship is officially banned ■ 1581: the netherlands proclaims its independence from spanish rule ■ 1602: the dutch east india company (voc) is formed in amsterdam ■ 1648: treaty of westphalia is signed, spanish empire officially acknowledges the nation’s existence ● The key to this history is that the Dutch were proud of their independence, their republic (not a feudal or aristocratic order), and their protestant/calvinist faith○ Remember, the reformation involved a mix of religious and political motivations ● These were the conditions for the emergence of a thriving commercial - capitalist - society ■ Summary ● The calvinism of the netherlands contributed to the rise of capitalism, which was celebrated in dutch art of the 16th and 17th centuries ● The domestic sphere, work, and public life of the capitalist republic were themes of painting, a kind of mirror of dutch life ■ Ironies ● First: ○ the ethos that drives capitalism ■ That gets people to devote themselves to work, does not seem to have anything to do with religion ● Second: ○ in fact, capitalism, as it develops, eclipses religion, or is a secularizing force ● Hence: ○ it takes interpretive work to reveal the surprising fact that behind capitalism, or one of its conditions of


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