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If you do not mind I would like to go back to the original posts by Compaqdrew, because there is a wrong idea in there. What you are talking about now is very interesting but you are missing the main point: what is the essence of capitalism? What does capitalism has that makes it very different from feudalism, from slavery, or from some other economic forms?

The conversation deviated to trade and free market. Nothing wrong to talk about that. Nevertheless, the conversation started with a flawed argument. "Compaqdrew" said that since every economic form has trade in one way or another, then all of them are different degrees of the same thing. Thing that, he argues, would be capitalism.

There has been trade on Earth since a Cromagnon traded his arrow for a Neanthertal´s rabbit. Does it means we have had capitalism since prehistoric times? Certainly not. As I said, Compaq missed the essence of capitalism: capital. Capitalism is not trade in the same way as money is not capital. Money is very old. Is capital as old as money? Certainly not.

One of the characteristics of feudal times was that production goods were made by artisans. From artisan to aprentice they transfered the secret of constructing a loom, and the secret of how to work withit to make a piece of cloth. The artisan bought the wool and with it made the piece of cloth and then sell it and he made a living that way. But with time the demand for cloth incresed. More artisans were needed, more looms were needed. Some of the artisans were good at making their own looms, Other artisans did not know how, just knew how to work with them. The artisans that knew how to build them in time accumulated two or three looms, which they could not work at the same time. Other artisans lost their loom in a fire, and did not know how to build a replacement. The owner artisan invited the bankrupt artisan to work is his workshop. He was asked to make cloth with the extra loom in exchange for the very needed money to feed his family. But the cloth he produced did not belong to him. It belong to the workshop owner.

At that moment the capitalist and the proletariat were born!

The bankrupt artisan did not own anymore the product of his work. He just received money for having made it. The proletariat does not own the means of production nor the goods they make. They just sell their workforce.

The workshop owner owns the means of production and the goods made with them. That is his Capital. In capitalism the capitalist own the means of production, hires workers to do the work in exchange of some money, and owns the goods that the worker produce!!

So, Feudalism and Capitalism do not merely differ in how free the trade is. They are fundamentaly different.

--RedRoseSpartakus 18:11, 21 September 2006 (UTC)

Not sure this definition of capitalism differentiates it that much from feudalism. Feudalism is defined by lords who owned property and serfs who worked the land for the lords in exchange for food and housing. Capitalism is indeed defined by capital. The capital is the risk an entrapenuer incurs in hope of recouping his initial loss, as well as making a profit to re-invest in the effort or other efforts, and generate a living wage. This is much different than feudalism, which relied on a well-defined caste structure and discouraged individual ventures. They are fundamentally different, most definitely.
When many people think economy, especially those who think capitalism is the fundamental economy, they are thinking bartering system, where people trade what they have in surplus for what they need. Obviously, that's not the only system of economy. There's also communal economies, and my personal fave, gift economy. -- Ferguson 00:56, 30 September 2006 (UTC)