The New Economy
Medieval guilds and merchants were subject to local regulations, and usually worked within limited areas. Because most prices were fixed, and the business was small, most of the masters of the workshops made very little profit. Whatever profit he could manage, was used to upkeep his shop, and take care of his family. The ideas of unlimited surplus and expansion of capital had not yet been introduced.
The displacement of guild control allowed enterprising merchants to take over industry. They brought in raw materials and hired semi-skilled workers. The workers were paid, but the overall ownership of the enterprise and products stayed with the merchants. They sold the finished product in the international market at whatever price they could. Any profits that were yielded belonged to the merchants, not the workers.
Profit seeking is one of the major reasons businesses and industries strive for success in today s society. Companies and entrepreneurs have learned about partnerships and their values by looking back on the successful family firms of the fifteenth century. They have also learned about the importance of the way they treat their laborers. Once profit seeking became the major drive behind business and industry, ideas such as reinvesting and expansion were born. These two basic ideas are the basis of our capitalistic society today.
The downside appeared to be the limitations that were imposed upon the workers. The workers were paid at a low rate, and had absolutely no say in the manner in which the business was conducted, and were prohibited by law to organize or strike. This destroyed master worker relationships that existed in the past, and put a limitation on the workers creativity. I believe this to be the reason that the us vs. them atmosphere is still present in the workplace today.
In all, I believe that the turn to unlimited profit seeking was by far a beneficial chain of events for the Western Culture. Keeping in mind that all major changes have a certain amount of detrimental effect. I tend to believe that growth of capitalism to its current state was well worth any hardships that were endured.