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How Contemporary Capitalism is rooted in colonialism

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How Contemporary Capitalism is rooted in Colonialism

Contemporary capitalism is rooted in colonialism sense, akin to the strategies of colonization and the reasons; capitalism also engages exploitative practices of capitalism. Capitalism replaced feudalism which was a functional system during the Medieval Ages. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are among the philosophers who boldly criticized capitalism since it led to the exploitation of the working class despite its materialistic accomplishment. Its roots in colonialism are illustrated in the capitalistic principles that mandated the residents in the colonial powers to live under the rule of European powers and provide free labor. Europe’s capitalism and commercial revolution are the driving forces that guide current markets, competition, and globalization.

Marx and Engels’ views

In Marx’s view, the emergence of capitalism resulted from the in-built hostility accumulated for the ruling class that owned the production by those who worked effortlessly to create the wealth they possessed. Karl Marx views capitalism as progressively emerging and eventually stagnating because of various internal contradictions (Wright, 2018). The stagnation of the capitalistic system would therefore result in communism. The feudal system existed in Asia, Africa, and Europe before capitalism. Commercial revolution then became a factor that made Europe capitalist. Additionally, the commercial revolution still plays a vital role as a driving force of economies today.

Marx believed that capitalism did not confer a vantage point in society since it encouraged alienation. He criticized capitalism’s social structures in lieu of technological advancements and material accomplishments. His view of capitalism envisioned industry and technology as solutions, not social problems. He believed that capitalism’s dirty secret entailed exploiting lower classes to profit the upper classes. Capitalism encouraged the systematic extraction of profit from the working class to benefit production owners. This system would plague the effectiveness of feudalism since it would introduce the factor of exploitation which would limit production (Braun, Gabor, & Hübner, 2018).

Marx, Engels, and all the supporters of his works believed that capitalism was unjust since the proletariat in capitalistic systems did not have any justice in contrast to their counterparts in systems of communism. Capitalism favored the opinion of the ruling classes and ignored the non-ruling classes’ ideas. Therefore, the ruling classes had the upper hand since the system heeded their advice and viewpoints and implemented them. In light of this argument, Marx held that capitalism was unfair and unjust since it encouraged social systems that fostered social inequality. Thus, it still lacked in its social setting despite its material accomplishments.

About its emergence, Marx argues that the “mode of production,” capitalism, led to the establishment of two social classes, the bourgeoisie, the owners and oppressors, and the proletariat, the workers and the exploited. Capitalism emerged from the assembly of ideas. Europeans reinforced the system in the 18th century, which resulted in its blossoming after the Industrial revolution. Marx believes that the development of agriculture and its social implications created the appropriate economic and political criteria that encouraged capitalism (Caruso, 2018).

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were critics of capitalism and its evolution and encouraged workers to rise and overturn the exploitative systems. They believed that society would be more functional if people could express their human nature and choose what to do to earn a living. The two philosophers argued that it was more important to have a meaningful life than to manufacture products. This argument accounts for their critique of capitalism since its emergence. Social settings of capitalism had major pitfalls that surpassed material accomplishments.

Marx and Engels raised concerns about the alienation of the non-ruling classes when capitalism emerged. They quantified the ruling classes’ power and the capitalistic system’s control upon them. In their view, capitalism devalued the human world while increasing the value of worldly possession, which would lead to hostility and competition. They also believed that the capitalistic system emerged and globally disseminated since it appropriated unpaid labor and led to the exploitation of the workers to benefit the ruling class optimally. Engels was a supporter and contributor to the works of Karl Marx and held added vital notions. He argued that rapid industrialization in Europe led to the development of unfair systems, which are the capitalistic systems. These systems fostered a culture of overworking the workers in the 1800s, leading to poor living standards where individuals lived in huts and included their children in the labor group.

Context and Equal Footing in Feudalism

Marx also suggests that feudalism was the system that preceded capitalism. To put the concepts of capitalism into context, Marx considered their origins in the Middle Ages, where feudalism was prominent. The feudal system was far from capitalistic. It involved few feudal lords and their aristocracy, who controlled the factors of production by possessing vast wealth and power. The majority population in the feudal system were peasants or serfs who had next to nothing compared to the feudal lords. In the context of the abovementioned example, that is, the development of agriculture, feudalism entailed that all profits should be directed to the feudal lords. At the same time, a small portion should be kept by the peasants (Hickel, 2017).

Similarly, feudal systems can also be described as a complex organization of the social and economic systems defined by inherited ranks and possessed social and economic privileges. It is an ancient form of government where landlords trade land for services with their tenants. This political rhetoric was typical in Europe, England, for example, that had a feudal system that was well structured with a king as the absolute owner of feudal systems, such as nobles’ knights and other tenants only possessing land from the king (Hickel, 2017). Power at this period was more central to privileged people, while others were mere subjects to the decisions made by the higher authority. This subjection was because the king extended favors to the working class by giving them ownership rights.

In Asia, land ownership was not granted to those lower levels like Europe. The peasants only worked for protection and a little harvest given by the landlord. Feudal systems in low-income and underdeveloped countries were more exploitative than social. The nobles were at the top level, warriors then tenants were at the lowest. The peasants were to honor the warriors dutifully. In other words, they had to exchange their loyalty for survival. The warriors, in turn, served the nobles, who in turn protected them. In other words, the system entailed other individuals living at the expense of the other; for instance, the nobles lived privileged lives at the expense of peasants and warriors’ blood and sweat.

In Africa, the political rhetoric was based on land and the social classes’ relationship and benefits. Peasants work for nobble through the warriors, and the nobles provide protection and a little harvest. It bore similarities to the feudal system in Asia and Europe with little civility. The feudal system in all continents, from Europe to Africa, placed all the players on equal footing since it discouraged capitalistic efforts to exploit nations at the expense of other wealthier powers (Hickel, 2017). However, Europe employed capitalism and embarked on global colonization upon the commercial revolution.

Europe, Africa, Asia, and other continents had equal development opportunities in the feudal system. Since minority populations held the powers, the limited commercial approaches would lead to steady growth of all nations at the same pace. Therefore, no government would increase its capacity by increasing its production to surpass other countries and control them. All the nations were equal in the feudal system, and there were no superior powers. Hickel (2017) suggests that poverty is created to control the majority of the population. These insights shed light on how feudalism encouraged fairness and equal dissemination of wealth worldwide. Countries and their monarchs faced steady economic development and engaged the feudal system to guide their social and political endeavors.

Europe Evoked Into Capitalism

A factor that evoked Europe into becoming the capitalist dividing force was the commercial revolution. Afterward, mechanical industrialization allowed Europe to multiply its wealth and increase its power. The expanding commercial activity created busy, lucrative commercial activity zones, and Europe could connect to these markets. Such zones included the Northern trade Zone and the Mediterranean trade zone (Caruso, 2018). The growth of trade and commerce in Europe made money to slowly but steadily replace the old subsistence economy in Europe. Money became a more efficient way to trade as barter trade became outdated, leading to the initial stages of capitalism. The rapid mechanical industrialization led to the commercialization of the factors of production in the nation, encouraging expansion.

Additionally, with the expanding markets, the national monarchies encouraged and promoted trade and commerce to increase the state’s revenue and profit. Increased revenue and profit accumulation was a way to increase the nation’s power, putting it at the forefront of world leadership. After the third phase of the revolution, Europe rose to world leadership, setting it apart from other countries due to its accumulated wealth (Hickel, 2017). The discoveries of new Indian and Atlantic Ocean routes expanded the business even more since capitalism depends on commercial activities. The expansion of these activities created a significant shift into becoming a capitalist nation. The mechanical revolution conferred a competitive advantage that evoked Europe into a capitalistic driving force.

Expansion of its state system became its major priority which, as Marx had initially foreseen, led to hostility as European power inducted other nations into Western civilization through colonization (Wright, 2018). Forceful eradication of the current economic system in the colonies made Europe double their factors of production, from labor to land. Since it owned most of the world’s technology, it exploited its colonies by engaging in free labor, slavery, exporting minerals and valuable harvests into their markets. Further, the accumulation of profit and wealth led to more production factors for Europe, which prompted further global expansion. The colonialism fueled its industrial revolution, widening the gap between the North and the South and perpetuating capitalistic regimes over the colonies (Hickel, 2017).

The industrial revolution characterized the success of Europe since it became able to profit more from the exploitation of its colonies for free labor. It became a capitalistic driving force by disseminating capitalism in other states eradicating all forms of feudalism. It made the residents in the colonies adopt the capitalistic concepts and augment them into state practices (Delanty 2019). Thus, colonialism is a factor that evoked Europe into becoming the capitalistic driving force since it led to European powers’ control over most of the world’s economies since they were under their colonies. The inability of other nations to exert the same effort to control the economy debilitated their efforts, making Europe’s actions the determinant factor.

How the Force Is At Play Today

In the modern world, the expansion of financial markets to make profits is still the driving force in the capitalist system. The free market forces of supply and demand set dictate the market value of property and goods sold rather than the central government. Additionally, market competition and goods production depend on the target consumer’s demand (Braun, Gabor, & Hübner, 2018). The producers produce their products considering the various markets worldwide, intending to profit in the end. The market demand for products and the need for male profit control the economy in the current world.

Moreover, the force is still at play due to today’s social and wealth gap. The free enterprise economy has fostered economic freedom globally, which has been on the rise since 1980. Similarly, drawing from Europe’s capitalistic nature, the world has experienced a shift to privately-owned enterprises (Hickel, 2017). This is an effect of capitalism since it details how individuals in the free economy want to get a piece of the profit and manage individuals for their benefit. However, the modern capitalistic system does not encourage the exploitation of workers. It fosters an employee culture to improve the profits and revenue accrued from the labor they provide.

The commercial revolution also encouraged the globalization of economies, transport, and businesses. The thirst for more profit is still a driving force of current economies. These effects are evident in the formation of global organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organizations. These organizations stemmed from commercial revolution since the revolution necessitated economic specialization, services that these organizations provided (Delanty, 2019). These organizations are still actively operational, indicating that the effects of the commercial revolution kick-started by Europe are a significant driving force still in play. Further, creating new institutions such as state banks and the futures markets is another piece of evidence that connects current economic strategies to the commercial revolution. With these institutions augmented in the world economies, capitalism becomes essential for sustenance and continuity.

The commercial revolution in Europe also resulted in the industrial revolution, another driving force that worked hand-in-hand with development. This revolution has advanced trade markets worldwide, leading to overseas trading. In light of capitalistic principles that leveraged Europe’s revolution, overseas trading has gained popularity in divergent nations where producers and consumers seek the best markets to conduct their business to generate maximum profit (Braun, Gabor, & Hübner, 2018). The development of financial markets in Asia and America illustrates the commercial revolution’s impacts. Despite Europe’s growth into a world leader, following the benefits of the driving force encouraged the development of economies of other nations in the West and South, which mirrored the strategies.

The most common evidence of how the force is still in play today is the stiff competition in the markets. Considering that the free markets are money-based, competition arises where customers are willing to pay more for top-tier and quality production. Therefore, enterprises with superior production dominate markets, creating competitive situations for other players. Like Europe, these organizations aim to expand their reach globally and monopolize markets, another form of commercial revolution that would benefit the organization’s profits and revenues. For instance, multinational corporations take advantage of cheap labor and capitalize on this opportunity by setting up manufacturing companies in these countries to reap cheap labor. While they pay the workers peanuts worth of the actual profit share, they pocket the rest and finance further expansion, akin to the commercial development.


The feudal system existed in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and the African continent. The feudal system engaged the leadership of the minority, the feudal lords, who passed ownership to the majority of the population since they were peasants. The feudal lords expected loyalty and service in exchange for land ownership, which was functional during its time. However, the economic revolution paved the way for a new economy that exploited capitalism’s workers. During the era of feudal systems, Europe was system an equal footing with the rest of the world since the system encouraged monarchs to manage lands in their nations. However, the rapid industrialization and commercial revolution placed Europe at the forefront of world leaders, making it a driving force for capitalistic strategies based on discovering new markets. Commercial revolution is still a significant push of world economies as it connects markets worldwide with the demanded products and trading activities that make a profit. The commercial revolution has also led to globalization and economic and social influences.


Braun, B., Gabor, D., & Hübner, M. (2018). Governing through financial markets: Towards a critical political economy of Capital Markets Union. Competition & Change, 22(2), 101-116.

Caruso, L. (2018). Digital innovation and the fourth industrial revolution: epochal social changes? Ai & Society, 33(3), 379-392.

Delanty, G. (2019). The future of capitalism: Trends, scenarios, and prospects for the future. Journal of Classical Sociology, 19(1), 10–26. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468795X18810569

Hickel, J. (2017). The divide: A brief guide to global inequality and its solutions. Random House.

Wright, E. O. (2018). The continuing relevance of the Marxist tradition for transcending capitalism. tripleC: Communication, Capitalism & Critique. Open Access Journal for a Global Sustainable Information Society, 16(2), 490-500.

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