12 August, 2022

What, exactly, is "proto-capitalism?"

Have you ever heard of the term, "proto-capitalism?" I have heard it from two groups. The first group are those Catholics who wholeheartedly accept capitalism. For this group, the proto-capitalism period is evidence that the capitalism under which we live today has its origins in Catholic teaching. The second group are other capitalists who say that the proto-capitalism period was a period of transition from economics being considered a sub-category of ethics, where it was subject to religion and philosophy, to its own separate field of study. There is one thing that is generally acknowledged by both of these groups, however. Whatever proto-capitalism was, it was not capitalism. It is the name given by these groups to a particular time that, according to them, was a transition in European economics to capitalism. This leaves some important questions. What was the preceding economic system? What changes separate proto-capitalism from the period that preceded it? What changes separate proto-capitalism from actual capitalism? Finally, is there possibly another name we in the current age can apply to what these groups call proto-capitalism?