Capitalism: The Story Behind the Word
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How the history of a word sheds new light on capitalism and modern politics
"Capitalism" was first coined in France in the early nineteenth century. It began as a fusion of two distinct sets of ideas. The first involved thinking about public debt and war finance. The second involved thinking about the division of labour. Sonenscher shows that thinking about the first has changed radically over time. Funding welfare has been added to funding warfare, bringing many new questions in its wake. Thinking about the second set of ideas has offered far less room for manoeuvre. The division of labour is still the division of labour and the debates and discussions that it once generated have now been largely forgotten. By exploring what lay behind the earlier distinction before it collapsed and was eroded by the passage of time, Sonenscher shows why the present range of received ideas limits our political options and the types of reform we might wish for.
248 pages, Hardcover, September 2022.
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