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Newtonian capitalism

Nicholas Till’s lament for the North Norfolk coastline and for pastoral sentiment in opera is well taken (“Elegy in a country churchyard”, 24 October). The lonely coast at Cley is ever more heavily trod. And opera may well have originated as deeply coded social comment on brutal rural policy: an echo of tragic country lives favoured by the subliminally conscience-stricken urban wives of the rapacious rich.

But the idea that capitalism originated in rural commerce is difficult to swallow. Surely it arose with the Industrial Revolution, when large sums were repeatedly needed to finance new machine industries? Indeed, if anything was responsible for capitalism it was Newton’s dynamics, which provided the wherewithal to predict what any conjectured machine would do - combined with a relatively loose-weave common-law society where money was in the hands of a scattered class.

Chris Ormell
The PER Group
London

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Difficult to swallow perhaps, but Marx is fairly conclusive. As is Ellen Meiksins Wood (The Pristine Culture of Capitalism, 1991; The Origin of Capitalism, 2002).

    Nicholas Till

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