Thursday, June 12, 2014

Flashback to Professor William Graham Sumner: Capitalism Is The Means to Civilization

Flashback. Professor William Graham Sumner explains why the human race isn't stuck in a bush:
We know that men once lived on the spontaneous fruits of the earth, just as other animals do. In that stage of existence a man was just like the brutes. His existence was at the sport of nature. He got what he could by way of food, and ate what he could get, but he depended on finding what nature gave. He could wrest nothing from nature; he could make her produce nothing; and he had only his limbs with which to appropriate what she offered. His existence was almost entirely controlled by accident; he possessed no capital; he lived out of his product, and production had only the two elements of land and labor of appropriation. At the present time man is an intelligent animal. He knows something of the laws of nature; he can avail himself of what is favorable, and avert what is unfavorable, in nature, to a certain extent; he has narrowed the sphere of accident, and in some respects reduced it to computations which lessen its importance; he can bring the productive forces of nature into service, and make them produce food, clothing, and shelter. How has the change been brought about? The answer is, by capital. If we can come to an understanding of what capital is, and what a place it occupies in civilization, it will clear up our ideas about a great many of these schemes and philosophies which are put forward to criticize social arrangements, or as a basis of proposed reforms.

The first beginnings of capital are lost in the obscurity which covers all the germs of civilization. The more one comes to understand the case of the primitive man, the more wonderful it seems that man ever started on the road to civilization.
What modern day liberals just don't understand.