Yes, raw materials can be capital. In fact,
to the extent that they have been assembled by human action they inevitably are,
by definitions of capital that I prefer. So, I agree that raw materials do
not equate to Nature. When I objected to Michael's usage I must have been
thinking "natural resources", which is quite a differentiable concept.
Mixing the two together was doubtless conditioned by my recent and ongoing
disagreement with environmentalists who have latched onto the the notion of
"natural capital"--which is a distortion of the meaning supplied in classical
economics, in the passages from Douglas supplied by Wally and in the
exposition below, following Ruskin.
Now that I have conceded Michael's point, I hope
that someone will offer a similarly well-reasoned commentary on how natural
capital can or cannot be accommodated in a Social Credit concept of
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, June 05, 2006 11:10
Subject: [socialcredit] nature and
The word "capital" is
derived from Latin "caput," "head," and is defined by Ruskin as "head, or
source, or root material; material by which some derivative or secondary good
is produced." This would include raw materials. Or what else would
you call something like seed-corn? What else would you call a
woodpile? Neither of these are tools even in the widest sense.
Seed-corn derives from ancient materials of nature that have been modified by
man continuously for thousands of years. A woodpile consists of
materials collected direct from nature (let us generously assume), but even
then, the very act of collecting it is to expend labor on it and so turn it
Indeed, the very term "raw material" is quite
different from "nature." "Raw material" is an economic term and implies
material from nature directed toward production. Maybe Keith would agree
with me that rocks of Pluto are not raw materials in any sense. Nor are
wild edible berries in a forest raw materials in and of themselves. If I
pick them to eat, they become consumer goods. If I pick them to bake in
a pie, they are capital.
Douglas in the passage quoted by Wally doesn't
follow Ruskin's paradigm, quite. He distinguished two "agencies" (i.e.,
actors) of production -- labor and capital (the latter including the Cultural
Heritage) and three "factors" of production -- the two actors plus raw
materials, considered to be passive. So Douglas uses the term "capital"
more narrowly, but this does not mean a substantive difference. Both
call for WISE USE of nature.
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