Capitalism Economic and Social Change in Europe

The ‘collapse of Communism’ in the late 1980s and 1990s seemed to confirm what many people have long believed: that capitalism is the natural condition of humanity, that it conforms to the laws of nature and basic human inclinations, and that any deviation from those natural laws and inclinations can only come to grief. (Wood 1)

This paper will explore the impact of the capitalist system around the world since the fifteenth century and how the variables such as rebellion and protest affected its course. Also, the consequences of capitalism will be discussed as well as the ways in which we – individuals and states – address them.

The concept of capitalism is founded on personal liberties where the means of production in a society is not controlled by the state but in the hands of private persons. Capitalist practices started as early as the 1400s and it started to be institutionalized between the 16th and 19th centuries. It emerged as the dominant economic system in Europe after its predecessor, which was feudalism. Through time, capitalism has evolved from one form to another, and today economists agree that there are several different types of capitalism throughout the world. Usually, this depends on elements such as geography, politics, culture as well as the concentration of economic might and the methods of capital accumulation. 1 The mechanisms behind the evolution of capitalism are documented by history and we will explore the timeline of the most important upheavals and, eventually, the resulting capitalist culture that we have at present and its impact. Our thesis is that crises such as rebellion and protest challenge capitalism in a way that encourages the foundation of new principles. These principles become powerful due to their economic, hence political significance. What holds the power in the economic system has more impact in the world –the merchants in pre-industrial Britain, the industrialists, the financiers who monopolized trade, multinational companies, and so on.