2011년 5월 10일 화요일

An excerpt: The Varieties of Accumulation: Civilisational Perspective on Capitalism

자료: The Varieties of Accumulation: Civilisational Perspective on Capitalism
발췌:
(...) It seems to be precisely this common ground that Fernand Braudel has in mind when he writes:

The worst mistake is to assume capitalism is an 'economic system', and nothing more; in fact, it depends on the social order, and exists from the outset on equal footing, adversarial or complicit, with the stateㅡa particularly weighty player. For even if culture is unequally distributed and split between contrary currents, its{=culture} main role isㅡin the last instanceㅡto support the existing order. It{=capitalism} is also inseparable from ruling classes that defend themselves by defending it{=capitalism}. (Braudel 《물질문명과 자본주의》 영문판 1977[??], 3권: 540)
CF:
“La pire des erreurs c'est encore de soutenir que le capitalisme est ‘un système économique’, sans plusalors qu’il vit de l'ordre social, quil est adversaire ou complice, à égalité (ou presque) avec l'Etat, personnage encombrant s'il en est – et cela depuis toujours ; quil profite aussi de tout l'appui que la culture apporte à la solidité de l'édifice social, car la culture, inégalement partagée, traversée de courants contradictoires, donne malgré tout, en fin de compte, le meilleur d'elle-même au soutien de l'ordre en place ; quil tient les classes dominantes qui, en le défendant, se défendent elles-mêmes.” (Braudel, III, 1979, p 540).


2.1.3. Fernand Braudel

To round off this part of the discussion, let us briefly return to Braudel's work. The above quotation from his concluding reflections on capitalism served to indicate the general direction of civilisational approaches to this field; a more detailed summary of his conceptual scheme will be useful when it comes to integrating ideas extracted from the classics with contemporary debates. He begins with a distinction between three levels of economic life.
  • The most elementary one is the cycle of production, distribution and consumption; Braudel refers to it as ‘material civilisation’. As the terminology indicates, we are dealing with basic components of civilisation in the singular, but there is also an opening to the plural: civilisations differ in regard to ecological contexts and the patterns of needs and activities that develop in response to environmental conditions. 
  • The second level is that of economy in the more specific sense, that is, the networks of exchange. Here the pluralistic perspective becomes more important: although the market economy is part and parcel of the civilising process in the most general sense, its forms and levels of development vary greatly from one civilisation to another. Braudel never attempts to a systematic study of such variations; he makes it clear that all aspects of civilisational patternsㅡfrom ecology to religion and from political power to kinship structuresㅡaffect the dynamics of markets
  • Finally, capitalism, as Braudel understands it, constitutes a third level which stands in a dependent as well as an antagonistic relationship to the second. Capitalism presupposes a market infrastructure, but it always entails efforts to break through or move beyond the routines and constraints of institutionalised exchange. It is, in other words, based on strategies of accumulation that easily shade into visions of windfall profits. In pre-industrial societies, long-distance trade is its privileged domainIts breakthrough into the sphere of production marks the beginning of a great transformation which lies outside Braudel's field of inquiry (his work is explicitly focused on the period from the 15th to 18th century).
Let us note to implications of Braudel's approach.
  • First, capitalism is not a system, but an orientation of economic life and, as such, it is always linked to other orientations (those that prevail on the two other levels); its relative weight varies, but it never reaches the level of total takeover
  • Secondly, there is a threefold civilisational connection. The capitalist push beyond local or regional limits is inherent in the civilising process as such; although Braudel disagree with Weber on many fundamental points, he seems to agree on the need for a genealogy that traces the metamorphoses of capitalism back to the beginnings of civilisation. On the other hand, a comparative analysis of capitalism must pay attention to different civilisational contexts; Braudel outlines a research programme that would deal with different configurations and destinies of capitalism within the major civilisational complexes. 
  • Finally, the crystallisation of cross-civilisational ‘economic worlds’ (this seems a better translation of 'économies-mondes' than 'world economies') is crucial to capitalist development, and no formation of that kind was more important than the one spearheaded (but not unilaterally dominated) by early European expansion.
The early modern economic world also exemplifies another important feature of capitalism. The international trading companies were state-protected monopolies; as such they embody the convergent accumulation of wealth and power and, for Braudel, this is the rule rather than exception. His emphasis on the early modern international trading companies might seem open to a standard objection from economic historians: they argue that the transfer of wealth through monopolistic trading practices was not of critical magnitude. However, this does not affect Braudel's main point : early modern capitalism evolved in a mutually reinforcing relationship to political (more particularly geopolitical) processes that for the first time created a global civilisation constellation and opened up possibilities for new economic developments, not least through the new division of labour established between Europe and the Americas.

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