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Roots of Capitalism

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Chamberlain was a great writer who could see both the big and little pictures.
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Capitalism is a system that can stand on its own attainments, says John Chamberlain, and he offers here a fast-paced, provocative look at the intellectual forces and practical accomplishments that have created American capitalism.

He begins at the right sector: the world of ideas, with Adam Smith and his contemporaries who overthrew the mercantilist order. He is especially lucide on the relationship between economic and political freedom. The political theories of the men who hammered out the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence, the thinking of John Locke, James Madison, and Adam Smith, the deeds and discoveries of the James Watts, Eli Whitneys, and Henry Fords—all these diverse elements are shown to be part of the tradition of a free society in which American capitalism has grown and flourished.

The period of time investigated here cover the 18th through the 20th century with a special focus on American history. For this reason, it makes for a great introduction to history from an economic point of view. And, truly, Chamberlain knew his economic theory. This book provides a wonderful refutation of the idea of "perfect competition" and the labor theory of value.

The reader will experience the most satisfaction from the extremely clear prose of this master stylist. He was of a generation that sought to reach people in the most humane way. This makes this book so breezy and transparent that you can hardly put it down.

This is a unique blend of political and economic theory and the practical accomplishments of businessmen and innovators, The Roots of Capitalism provides valuable insights into the ideas underlying the free economy.

285 page, paperback, 1977, ISBN: 978-0-913966-24-2


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Table of Contents
Prologue—Time, Place, Principles, Beginners
1. The Freely Choosing Man
2. The Property Base
3. The Political Frame for an Open Society
4. Contract—or Capitalism Is Promises
5. Gloomy Men and Iron Laws—or Capitalism in a Cage
6. Premonition of the American System
7. Prometheus Unbound—or the Enterpriser's Function Explained
8. “Contrived Fecundity"—the Ford System and the Margin”
9. The True Perfection of Competition
10. The Consumers' Plebiscite
11. Labor Had the Right Idea
12. Retreat from the American System
Epilogue—Forward Once More?

ISBN 9780913966242
Publication Date 1977
Binding PB
Page Length 285