Virtual symposium highlights early history of global capitalism

By Farah Nisa Sa’adon

A new student movement called Virtue IIUM held its first ever virtual symposium on Friday (23 October) on the topic “The Early history of Global Capitalism” aimed at creating an understanding on the concept of capitalism among its members.

The speaker, Mr. Imran Mohd Rasid, a researcher of historical works on capitalism and social resistance said, “Capitalism does not only evolve or involve a certain country, but it is part of a global history.” He explained that the era of capitalism emerged after the fall of feudalism.

Capitalism, according to Oxford dictionary, means “an economic and political system in which a country’s trade and industry are controlled by private owners or capitalists for profit, rather than by the state.”

He discussed the works of scholars like Maurice Dobb, Paul Sweezy and the famous work by Karl Marx,”Das Kapital”, that created a theoretical foundation to overthrow capitalism.

Imran further said that we should not see capitalism as a way of life, but as what Karl Marx did, focusing more on the mode of production which are labour process, and social form of production which explained more on how things are being produced.

He elaborated that Karl Marx did not agree with the idea of capitalism that only focused on profit, instead he was more concerned with factors of production such as the exploitation of labour by capitalists.

Imran suggested to the audience to read a book titled “How the West Came to Rule: The Geopolitical Origins of Capitalism” by Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nisancioglu that discussed a new school or trend about capitalism.

Meanwhile, prominent Malaysian economist, Prof. Jomo K. Sundaram, who later joined the symposium said, “To highlight the uneven of things in a development when there is an interaction between two societies, it does not mean that their development has to be the same.”

He then commented on how modern states nowadays are faced with colonialism, which he described as “long term and does not mean that it is a good thing; however, through history, the world has developed its own mode of colonialism without having wars like back then.” ***

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