Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Merchant capitalism
(975 words)

1. Definition

The term merchant capitalism derived originally from the context of Marxist discussion, when Karl Marx himself was not yet using the term capitalism[3. 442–443]. Its roots are in the contrast between merchant capital and industrial capital. Merchant capital (or trade capitalism) appears in the works of Marx as “the oldest free mode of existence of capital” [2. 337]; its function consisted exclusively in enabling the exchange of goods. 

In this sense, merchant capital…

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Köster, Roman, “Merchant capitalism”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 25 February 2024 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_020619>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20190801

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