69:5 The Beginnings of Capital

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69:5.1 Capital is labor applied as a renunciation of the present in favor of the future. Savings represent a form of maintenance and survival insurance. Food hoarding developed self-control and created the first problems of capital and labor. The man who had food, provided he could protect it from robbers, had a distinct advantage over the man who had no food.

69:5.2 The early banker was the valorous man of the tribe. He held the group treasures on deposit, while the entire clan would defend his hut in event of attack. Thus the accumulation of individual capital and group wealth immediately led to military organization. At first such precautions were designed to defend property against foreign raiders, but later on it became the custom to keep the military organization in practice by inaugurating raids on the property and wealth of neighboring tribes.

69:5.3 The basic urges which led to the accumulation of capital were:

69:5.12 As civilization developed, men acquired new incentives for saving; new wants were rapidly added to the original food hunger. Poverty became so abhorred that only the rich were supposed to go direct to heaven when they died. Property became so highly valued that to give a pretentious feast would wipe a dishonor from one's name.

69:5.13 Accumulations of wealth early became the badge of social distinction. Individuals in certain tribes would accumulate property for years just to create an impression by burning it up on some holiday or by freely distributing it to fellow tribesmen. This made them great men. Even modern peoples revel in the lavish distribution of Christmas gifts, while rich men endow great institutions of philanthropy and learning. Man's technique varies, but his disposition remains quite unchanged.

69:5.14 But it is only fair to record that many an ancient rich man distributed much of his fortune because of the fear of being killed by those who coveted his treasures. Wealthy men commonly sacrificed scores of slaves to show disdain for wealth.

69:5.15 Though capital has tended to liberate man, it has greatly complicated his social and industrial organization. The abuse of capital by unfair capitalists does not destroy the fact that it is the basis of modern industrial society. Through capital and invention the present generation enjoys a higher degree of freedom than any that ever preceded it on earth. This is placed on record as a fact and not in justification of the many misuses of capital by thoughtless and selfish custodians.

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