Primus inter pares – Word of the day

Primus inter pares (Greek: Πρῶτος μεταξὺ ἴσων (protos metaxy ison), English: the first among equals or first among peers) is a Latin phrase describing the most senior person of a group sharing the same rank or office.


The legal code under Suleiman the Magnificent 

“In Turkey, the reign of Sulaiman was at the same time an age of victorious warfare, of widespread construction and of substantial legislative activity. Sulaiman bore the title of Kanuni, or law-maker, indicative of a revival of law studies and the existence of a special class of jurists in the states under his rule and above all at Constantinople. His legal code so suecessfully regulated the judicial machinery that it was said that Henry VIII of England sent a legal mission to Constantinople to study its workings. His Kanun-name is to the East what the Justinian Code is to the West and the Recopilacion de las Leyes to Spain. All the legal machinery established by Sulaiman in Hungary was the work of the jurist Abu’l-Su’ud; such a major achievement of legislation was it on the question of property that many of its detailed provisions remain in force to the present day. And the jurist Ibrahim Al-Halabi, author of a handbook on legal procedures, the multaka can be ranked alongside the most eminent western
jurists of the sixteenth century.”   
From Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the age of Philip II, Volume 2, pg. 683, Fontana/Collins, 1973.

Keynes on the proceeds of the Golden Hind booty brought back by Drake during the time of Elizabeth I


As John Maynard Keynes has observed, the proceeds of the booty brought back by Drake in the Golden Hind (estimated at £600,000) enabled Elizabeth to pay off the whole of her foreign debt and in addition to invest about £42,000 in the Levant Company. Largely out of the profits of the Levant Company came the initial capital of the East India
Company, athe profits of which during the seventeenth and eighteenth century were the main foundation of England’s foreign connections”
(Keynes 1930: II, 156-7, A treatise on Money). Assuming an annual rate of return of 6.5%
and a 50% rate of reinvestment of these returns, notes Keynes, the £42,000 of 1580 were sufficient to generate the entire value of the capital of the East India Company, Royal African Company, and
Hudson Bay Company in 1700, and something close to £4,000 million that constituted the entire stock of British foreign investments in 1913.

From The Long Twentieth Century by Giovanni Arrighi, 2010,Verso.

State capitalism (Venice) versus cosmopolitan capitalism (Genoa)

From Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century:

In sum, in the course of the secular competitive struggle that set the one against the other, the Venetian and the Genoese regimes of accumulation
developed along divergent trajectories, which in the fifteenth century crystallized into two opposite elementary forms of capitalist organization. Venice came to constitute the prototype of all future forms of “state (monopoly) capitalism,” whereas Genoa came to constitute the prototype of all future forms of “cosmopolitan (finance) capitalism.” The everchanging combination and opposition of these two organizational forms and, above all, their ever-increasing scale and complexity associated with the internalizadon” of one social function after another, constitute the central aspect of the evolution of historical capitalism as a world system.
A comparison of the two systemic cycles of accumulation sketched thus far reveals that, right from the start, the evolution of historical capitalism as a world system did not proceed in linear fashion, that is, through a series of simple forward movements in the course of which old organizational forms were superseded once and for all by new ones.  Rather, each forward movement has been based on a revival of previously superseded organizational forms. Thus, whereas the Genoese cycle of accumulation was based on the supersession of Venetian state (monopoly) capitalism by an alliance of Genoese cosmopolitan (finance) capitalism with Iberian territorialism, this alliance was itself superseded at a later time by the Dutch revival of state (monopoly) capitalism in a new, enlarged, and more complex form.

17th Century Dutch Capitalism

From Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 141, 2010, Verso:

The rule was always the same: buy goods directly from the producer for a low s, in return for cash or, better still, advance payments; then put them in store and wait for prices to rise (or give them a push). When war was in the air, which always meant that foreign goods became scarce and went up in price, the Amsterdam merchants crammed their five- or six-storey warehouses to
bursting-point; on the eve of the war of Spanish Succession, ships could not unload their cargoes for lack of storage space. (Braudel 1982: 419)  

The visible weapons of this policy were:

the great warehouses – bigger and more expensive than a large ship – which could hold enough grain to feed the United Provinces for ten or twelve years
(1670), as well as herrings and spices, English cloth and French wines, salpetre
from Poland or the East Indies, Swedish copper, tobacco from Maryland, cocoa from Venezuela, Russian furs and Spanish wool, hemp from AeBakic and silk from the Levant. (Braudel 1982: 418-19; see also Barbour 1950: 75)  

Capitalism versus territorialism in state formation

Capitalism and territorialism as defined here, in contrast, do represent alternative strategies of state formation In the territorialist strategy controls over territory and population is the objective, and control over mobile capital the means, of state- and war-making. In the capitalist strategy, the relationship between ends and means is turned upside down: control over mobile capital is the objective, and control over territory and population the means. This antinomy implies nothing concerning the intensity of coercion employed in the pursuit of power through either strategy. As we shall see, at the height of its power the Venetian republic was simultaneously the clearest embodiment of a capitalist logic of power and of a coercion-intensive path to state formation. What the antinomy does imply is that the truly innovative aspect of the process of formation of the Venetian state and of the system of city-states to which Venice belonged was not the extent to which the process relied on coercion but the extent to which it was oriented towards the accumulation of capital rather than the incorporation of territory and population. 

The logical structure of state action with regard to territorial acquisition and capital accumulation should not be confused with actual outcomes. Historically, the capitalist and the territorialist logics of power have not operated in isolation from one another but in relation to one another, within a given spatio-temporal context. As a result, actual outcomes depart significantly, even diametrically, from what is implicit in each logic conceived abstractly.

Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century, 2010, Verso.