Capitalismo: civilização e poder

This article examines capitalism from a historical viewpoint as a civilization and as a power. As the first global civilization in history, capitalism is seen here, since its inception in the late Middle Ages, as a disaggregating force of Indo-European civilization with regard not only to the prevailing collective mindset, but also to its social institutions. Concerning the social power of capitalism, this paper attempts to show how the commercial bourgeoisie, by foisting itself on feudal society, eventually superseded the dominant estates: the ecclesiastical and aristocratic-military. Although derived from outside the judicial world as a purely private power, capitalism manifested its hegemonic momentum since the onset of modernity and soon supplanted the traditional public powers. However, capitalist power, to survive, requires continuous concentration of wealth and unlimited geographic expansion. Its ideological strength in today's mass society is founded on its appropriation of modern media. The exercise of this world power in recent centuries has led to the greatest social disruption history has ever known.

Capitalism; Civilization; Power; Mindset; Social institutions

Instituto de Estudos Avançados da Universidade de São Paulo Rua da Reitoria,109 - Cidade Universitária, 05508-900 São Paulo SP - Brasil, Tel: (55 11) 3091-1675/3091-1676, Fax: (55 11) 3091-4306 - São Paulo - SP - Brazil