Arnold Kling  

Capitalism and the Jews

Bravo for Scott Sumner... The Invention of Enterprise...

That is the title of Jerry Z. Muller's new book. Muller is an outstanding intellectual historian, whose earlier book The Mind and the Market is a classic. His latest book is much shorter, and I read it straight through. Some excerpts:

p. 49:

[Georg] Simmel suggested that the limited-liability corporation was a model for many characteristic forms of association under advanced capitalism, in which individuals cooperate with a limited portion of their lives for common but limited purposes. Compared to the precapitalist past, in which individuals lived most of their lives in a single, circumscribed community, modern life was based upon looser, more temporary associations

p. 62-64

The problem for Keynes was deferred gratification, what he called "purposiveness," ...being "more concerned with the remote future results of our actions than with their own quality or their immediate effects on our own environment." ...Keynes identified this deferred gratification with the quest for immortality, with usury, and with the Jews.

it was people like his Bloomsbury companions who were the seeds of a more cultivated future...though there was no discernable link between Keynes's formal economic theory and his anti-Jewish prejudices.

Except that I see a link. It strikes me as no mere coincidence that Keynes rebelled against "purposiveness" (deferred gratification) and at the same time built his theory of economic slumps as an excess of savings.

p. 99:

By [1900], Jews, who constituted about 4 percent of the inhabitants of Berlin, paid 30 percent of the municipal taxes

p. 101:

Large established corporations had long discriminated against promotion of Jews into their executive ranks. And Jews, in turn, had avoided bureaucratic corporations where promotion often depended on the evaluation of superiors whose judgment might be tinged with anti-Jewish prejudice. It was a symbolic turning point, therefore, when the venerable Dupont Corporation appointed a Jew, Irving Shapiro, as its president in 1973...But in general, Jews continue to prefer self-employment, whether as owners of manufacturing a retailing firms, or as professionals.

In chapter 4, Muller discourses on Ernest Gellner's theory of the emergence of the nation-state. Modern economies require communication, which requires a common language, which leads to ethnic homogeneity and a state-run education system. p. 206:

modern, industrial societies...depend on the possibility of training individuals for a variety of jobs...most people need to become literate, and require education outside the family to be fit for work. This requires standardized, universal education, and it gives a new authority to those empowered to provide educational credentials. "At the base of the modern social order stands not the executioner but the professor...The monopoly of legitimate education is now more important, more central than is the monopoly of legitimate violence."

Chew on that one for a while.

Comments and Sharing

COMMENTS (4 to date)
Rafal Smigrodzki writes:

"At the base of the modern social order stands not the executioner but the professor...The monopoly of legitimate education is now more important, more central than is the monopoly of legitimate violence."

Wow, this sounds like taken straight out of a post at Unqualified Reservations! Mencius Moldbug would be happy to know that others are also aware of the dark powers of the Cathedral (as he calls the US university system).

Loof writes:

Both are MAD in the extreme when instituted: monopoly of legitimate violence is MAD (mutually assured destruction); monopoly of legitimate education is MAD (mutually assured dumbbells).

dlr writes:

Well, there are three means to get some one to do something they don't want to do:

1) provide a reward for compliance:
sex/friendship/love/affection/peer pressure

2) provide punishment for non-compliance

3) re-frame the choice (change their minds - aka propaganda):

Early childhood education is notoriously effective in accomplishing #3.

Loof writes:

A fourth means to get someone to do what he or she doesn’t want to do. Be exemplary. Indeed, do more than you say; say less about what they ought do.

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