There are moral dangers here. To take what might seem an “objective,” macro-economic approach to the origins of the world economy would be to treat the behavior of early European explorers, merchants, and conquerors as if they were simply rational responses to opportunities—as if this were just what anyone would have done in the same situation. This is what the use of equations so often does: make it seem perfectly natural to assume that, if the price of silver in China is twice what it is in Seville, and inhabitants of Seville are capable of getting their hands on large quantities of silver and transporting it to China, then clearly they will, even if doing so requires the destruction of entire civilizations. Or if there is a demand for sugar in England, and enslaving millions is the easiest way to acquire labor to produce it, then it is inevitable that some will enslave them. In fact, history makes it quite clear that this is not the case. Any number of civilizations have probably been in a position to wreak havoc on the scale that the European powers did in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (Ming China itself was an obvious candidate), but almost none actually did so.
Debt: The First Five Thousand Years – David Graeber (via
Like i think about this in relation to Pasifika history – we crossed the biggest ocean on the planet and. lived there. we didn’t leave a barren earth behind us like technocapitalised societies have.