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Word Count: 537
CAPITALISM To began we must first ask ourselves what is capitalism Capitalism is defined as a social system based on the principle of individual rights Capitalism also called Free Market Economy or Free Enterprise Economy economic system dominant in the Western world since the breakup of feudalism in which most of the means of production are privately owned and production is guided and income distributed largely through the operation of markets Although the continuous development of capitalism as a system dates only from the 16th century antecedents of capitalist institutions existed in the ancient world and flourishing pockets of capitalism were present during the later European Middle Ages The development of capitalism was spearheaded by the growth of the English cloth industry during the 16th 17th and 18th centuries The feature of this development that distinguished capitalism from previous systems was the use of the excess of production over consumption to enlarge productive capacity rather than to invest in economically unproductive enterprises such as pyramids and cathedrals This characteristic was encouraged by several historical events In the ethic encouraged by the Protestant of the 16th century traditional disdain for acquisitive effort was diminished while hard work and frugality were given a stronger religious sanction Economic inequality was justified on the grounds that the wealthy were also the virtuous Another contributing factor was the increase in Europes supply of precious metals and the resulting inflation in prices Wages did not rise as fast as prices in this period and the main beneficiaries of the inflation were the capitalists The early capitalists 1500-1750 also enjoyed the benefits of the rise of strong national states during the mercantilist era The policies of national power followed by these states succeeded in providing the basic social conditions such as uniform monetary systems and legal codes necessary for economic development and eventually made possible the shift from public to private initiative Beginning in the
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