Friday, February 13, 2009

Bertrand de Jouvenel on The Medieval Ethos of The American Academy

"It is perhaps a fact worthy of notice that the modern use of profit, expansion from retained earnings, arose and was systematized in the monasteries; the saintly men who ran them saw nothing wrong in extending their holdings and putting new lands under cultivation, in erecting better buildings, and in employing an ever increasing number of people. They are the true original of the nonconsuming, ascetic type of capitalist. And Berdyaev has truly observed that Christian asceticism played a capital part in the development of capitalism; it is a condition of reinvestment. It is tempting to mention that modern intellectuals look favorably on the accumulation of wealth by bodies of bearing a public seal (nationalized enterprises), which are not without some similarity to monasterial businesses. They do not, however, recognize the same phenomenon when the seal is missing."

---Bertrand de Jouvenel, "Treatment of Capitalism by Intellectuals" in FA Hayek, editor, Capitalism and the Historians, pp. 105-6.

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