Reading Reflection Unit




Woods hints that markets are inseparable from human societies. Thesemarkets are the building blocks of trade, but they do not whollyrepresent capitalism as captured by his words:

Markets of various kinds have existed throughout recorded history andno doubt before, as people have exchanged and sold their surpluses inmany different ways and for many different purposes. But the marketin capitalism has a distinctive and unprecedented function. Virtuallyeverything in capitalist society is a commodity produced for themarket (Wood, p. 16).

Wood believes that throughout the history of humanity, there has beena form of trade involved in society. He writes that the agrarianperiod, which marked the beginning of civilization for humankind,established commerce and markets. However, there are majordifferences between these prehistoric markets and the modern way ofdoing business under capitalism. Under capitalism, markets are drivenpurely by the need for competition and accumulation while in itsabsence they are fueled by production for consumption and sale ofsurpluses. I picked this quote in the hope that it exhaustivelyclears up any confusion between markets and capitalism. It isimportant because capitalism has created many social problems such asthe unequal distribution of resources. Thus, differentiating theeffects of trade controlled by capitalistic imperatives and marketsfree of such forces is necessary. What is clear is that having amarket is essential for the survival of societies, but capitalism isnot. I am truly impressed with the way that Wood approaches thetopic. He shows how the dynamics of the agrarian markets have evolvedover the years to give rise to capitalism. In order to understand thetransformation better and its impact on societies, it might benecessary to read further on changes in ownership of means ofproduction over the years and how they shape societies and influencebusiness dynamics as a key area of interest in this course.


Wood, E. M. (1998).The agrarian origins of capitalism. Monthly Review 50(3)14-31.