Robert Heilbroner – Twenty-First Century Capitalism (1993)
I. Capitalism from a Distance (Pg. 1)
Types of societies:
As a ruling principle, people are obedient to the ways from time immemorial. The !Kung people
Heilbroner describes outline this form of society because they are hunters and gatherers that
train their labourers as a form of socialization. He further highlights that these societies are
primitive and are “sleepwalk[ing] through history”(Heilbroner, 18).
Example: !Kung Tribe
Order of society is derived from a higher power that organizes and solves problems of
productions and distribution through enforcement and coercion of its people. Unlike
traditional, command requires the coercion as an enforcement mechanism because of the lack
of internalized pressures of socialization.
Example: Dahomey Kingdom
Organized production and distribution based on a laissez-faire paradigm that everyone does as
they please in the interests of the market. The dynamism (continuous growth and change) of
the market economy, controlled by constant forces of change in the interests of the market,
gives this form the title of economics.
Example: Western Civilization Capitalism (Powerful tendencies towards change)
i. Industrial Revolution
ii. Mass Production of Steel
II. The Drive for Capital (Pg. 23)
“That larger purpose obviously hinges on an understanding of the energy that capitalism generates as a battery
generates electricity. Everyone knows the source of this unique social voltage. It is the activity that lies at the heart
of the order – the drive to get ahead, to make money, to accumulate capital” (Heilbroner, 26)
What is Capital?
Wealth whose value does not inhere in its physical characteristics but in its use to create a larger
amount of capital.
Use = Money Raw Materials Finished Goods & Services Sold on Market Repeat
The power of purchasing controls a certain command over labour. Thus, those such as the bourgeois of
society, with affluent (abundant supply) purchasing power, control the organization and distribution of production, and therefore labour. In this way, growth generates both wealth and misery simultaneously
because the working class are at the whim of the conditions the upper class bestows upon them.
The drive for accumulation invariably requires two capitalists hitting head to head. When this happens,
both must create the most efficient system to generate the cheapest goods, to achieve the most capital.
Example: Pin Factory can create more goods than separate pin makers
Definition: Displacement of one process or product by another at the hands of a giant enterprise. This
term is identified with Joseph Schumpeter.
Capitalism: Success and Failure
Indispensable for material well-being Inseparable from adverse social effects
III. The Politics of Capitalism (Pg. 47) – Capitalism as a Political Order
Relationship between economy and the state
Appearance Factories, Stores, Banks Law & Order, Military
Roles Produce & Distribute Govern
Sovereignty International (Bound to no single Domestic
Divided & United
Duties of State
A. Protect society from violence and invasion
B. Protect from oppression from other members within it
C. Public works and Institutions
A. Private Realm – motivation: drive for accumulation
B. State Realm – motivation: national power & glory
i. Assist & support accumulation because, as you cannot get blood from a stone,
you cannot tax a dying economy.
In summary… “Business stands behind government in emergencies, while government stands behind
business between emergencies” (Heilbroner, 57) Keynesianism – John Maynard Keynes – 1936
New method to kick-start capitalism out of the depression
Key Points include (As seen in my lecture notes)
High Government Spending
Positive Liberty (Freedom to reach potential)
Capitalism as a Singularity
No non-capitalist country has attained the levels of political, civil, religious and intellectual freedom
found in all advanced capitalisms” (Heilbroner, 69)
Economy within polity allows its citizens to make their livings without interdiction by an all-powerful
IV. The Market System (Pg. 71)
“Markets are the condu