The Fruits of Civilization (23-7-1) England


England sat in the center of the spectrum. The upper class was politically well-aligned by the landed aristocracy intermarried with wealthy merchant families, lawyers, and officials.

After the Glorious Revolution of 1688, a plutocratic Parliament took power. Laws concerning economic regulation reflected the balance of interests between the agricultural aristocracy and the commercial combine of domestic manufacturers and traders.

With public finances under the control of Parliament, debt was contained, which brought down the cost of borrowing, and freed up capital for private investment. Capital concentration was assisted by highly regressive taxation which robbed the poor while leaving the wealthy flush. In the large, this capital accumulation had little to do with direct investment, as most industrial enterprises were started by small-time entrepreneurs and organically grew by reinvesting profits.

The euphoria engendered by the Glorious Revolution resulted in the creation of several joint-stock companies in the 1690s. Some of them, like the Bank of England, had royal charters and monopoly grants. At the time, the law was ambiguous about business organizations.