Yep, despite what you might have learned, the transition to a capitalistic society did not happen naturally or smoothly.

See, English peasants didn’t want to give up their rural communal lifestyle, leave their land and go work for below-subsistence wages in shitty, dangerous factories being set up by a new, rich class of landowning capitalists. Using Adam Smith’s own estimates of factory wages being paid at the time in Scotland, a factory-peasant would have to toil for more than three days to buy a pair of commercially produced shoes. Faced with a peasantry that didn’t feel like playing the role of slave, philosophers, economists, politicians, moralists and leading business figures began advocating for government action.

Sec chat bih-71

In Europe, he claimed, nobody cared about making money.

The lower classes had no hope of gaining more than minimal wealth, while the upper classes found it crass, vulgar, and unbecoming of their sort to care about something as unseemly as money; many were virtually guaranteed wealth and took it for granted.

And at length the sale of a half-fed calf, or hog, furnishes the means of adding intemperance to idleness. In other words, a big part of the capitalist exercise is to find or create workers to exploit. The moral fable (idleness is bad for the perp and putting him to work is thus a undertaking) was not, as Graeber suggests, because lazy people are proto-insurrectionists.

It is that people who are self-sufficient and have time on their hands on top of that drove the early capitalists nuts.

The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. At the same time, “professional, managerial, clerical, sales, and service workers” tripled, growing “from one-quarter to three-quarters of total employment.” In other words, productive jobs have, just as predicted, been largely automated away…

But rather than allowing a massive reduction of working hours to free the world’s population to pursue their own projects, pleasures, visions, and ideas, we have seen the ballooning not even so much of the “service” sector as of the administrative sector, up to and including the creation of whole new industries like financial services or telemarketing, or the unprecedented expansion of sectors like corporate law, academic and health administration, human resources, and public relations…

“In reality, the dispossession of the majority of small-scale producers and the construction of laissez-faire are closely connected, so much so that Marx, or at least his translators, labeled this expropriation of the masses as ‘‘primitive accumulation.’’ Perelman outlines the many different policies through which peasants were forced off the land—from the enactment of so-called Game Laws that prohibited peasants from hunting, to the destruction of the peasant productivity by fencing the commons into smaller lots—but by far the most interesting parts of the book are where you get to read Adam Smith’s proto-capitalist colleagues complaining and whining about how peasants are too independent and comfortable to be properly exploited, and trying to figure out how to force them to accept a life of wage slavery. Quarter, half, and occasionally whole days, are imperceptibly lost.

This pamphlet from the time captures the general attitude towards successful, self-sufficient peasant farmers: The possession of a cow or two, with a hog, and a few geese, naturally exalts the peasant. Day labour becomes disgusting; the aversion in- creases by indulgence.

Aristocrats and the well educated believed in the importance of leisure (having free time and an interesting social circle was a class marker, to set them apart from the grubby shopkeeper or his more successful cousin, the striving industrialist).