Early Capitalism and Economic Thinking.
Throughout the ages societies have struggled to find the perfect economic system. While economists may still be searching, countries like the U.S. have settled for capitalism. However, in the mid-1800s, when capitalism was still struggling to earn its wings, many philosophers foresaw capitalism as collapsing. Adam Smith felt that the growth of the market in a capitalistic society would eventually to come to a halt (Heilbroner1 67). Thomas Malthus saw inevitable doom in capitalism due to the rapid growth of population exceeding the growth of subsidence (Malthus 13). And finally, the infamous Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels called for the proletariats to rise together and form a communistic society because capitalism was destined to be the cause of its own demise.
Basic Institutions of Capitalism.
The foundation of capitalism is the based on the idea of private property and free markets. Individuals are allowed to own property and are encouraged to follow their own self-interest by selling their property in order to increase private capital (Colander 29). From this ensues the "profit motive" generating a natural drive in society to maximize income by offering the best market price. Wealth is based on how much you have to sell, not how much you have for show (Heilbroner2 49). .
Free markets support the profit motive by allowing individuals to trade, specialize, and compete against one another, all of which leads to economic growth (Colander 44). Capitalists use comparative advantage in trade to make greater profits. Instead of producing many different products an individual will specialize in one area of production, keep what he needs, and then trade the surplus for necessities, such as money, food, etc. (Colander 42). By specializing individuals become even more skilled at their profession which increases their output, in turn increasing their input (profit).