# Outline of chapter 1, part A, section 1 in Reisman's *Capitalism*

Below is an outline I made for chapter 1, part A, section 1 in Reisman’s Capitalism (pages 15-16). This is part of a larger project to do some of the multiple choice questions and essay questions for the book. The purpose of the outline is to help me understand the section and to improve my reading comprehension.

When making the outline, I could see how Reisman’s sentences fit together sort of like a proof. Different sentences are needed to understand or demonstrate the truth of other sentences. In my outline, an item is indented below another item if the indented item is needed to understand the outer item. So for example 1.1 through 1.6 are needed to understand 1.

Note: this is my first serious try at outlining so I may have messed it up.

Here’s the outline:

1 The survival of modern material civilization (MMC) depends on econ* being understood
1.1 econ*: "the science that studies the production of wealth under a system of division of labor (DoL)
1.2 The lives of the great majority of people now living ≤ MMC (medicine, hygiene, food) ≤ production of sufficient wealth (context)
1.3 DoL ≈ people specialize in what they produce
1.3.1 DoL date ≥ 1700s Britain
1.3.2 DoL regions: USA, former British territories, Western Europe, Japan
1.3.3 non-DoL: self-sufficient production of farm families or tribes of nomads + hunters
1.3.4 non-DoL regions: Asia, Africa, Latin America
1.4 production of wealth ≤ DoL
1.4.4 DoL is an essential component of every advanced economics system
1.4.5 There is not enough land for everyone to be self-sufficient farmers
1.5 DoL succeeds ≤ people adopt pro-DoL laws and institutions ≤ econ* is understood
1.5.1 Things people do when they don’t understand DoL: analogy: pushing computer buttons with no understanding, e.g. destruction of freedom of contract, inheritance, private ownership of means of production
1.5.1.1 (context) Roman Empire 200s-300s: feudalism replaced advanced economic system which had achieved DoL
1.5.1.1.1 (context) feudalism: self-sufficiency of small territories
1.6 econ* is a science
1.6.1 (Context) science: “organized body of knowledge that proceeds by deductive reasoning from elementary principles”
1.6.2 If something doesn’t function automatically and isn’t comprehensible by experience+observation alone, then science is required to understand it
1.6.3 DoL isn’t comprehensible by experience+observation alone
1.6.4 DoL doesn’t exist or function automatically

I think Reisman’s writing, in this section at least, is pretty complete. I think the info he gives you is, together with context, necessary and sufficient to understand what he’s trying to convey.

What does ≤ mean? Like, my guess here is something like DoL succeeds less (often) than ppl adopt pro-DoL policies, which itself happens less (often) than ppl understanding econ. But that doesn’t feel right/complete to me.

This is also not clear to me. like the first 2 terms (between ≤) seem to say the conditions most ppl live in are worse than MMC conditions. but IDK how to connect the 3rd term, then.

Also, there’s no sub points under 1.2, but IDK if the point is standalone.

I haven’t read Capitalism so if your goal didn’t include someone like me being able to understand those bits then mb it’s okay.

It’d help readability to use formatting for the list.

“X ≤ Y” means “If X, then Y”. That was a personal shortcut that I used in my tree and forgot to explain.

I took 1.2 as a standalone point.

Here’s a formatted version of the tree (with bug fixes [1]):

1. The survival of modern material civilization (MMC) depends on econ* being understood
1. econ*: "the science that studies the production of wealth under a system of division of labor (DoL)
2. (context) The lives of the great majority of people now living imply that MMC (medicine, hygiene, food) exists which implies that the production of sufficient wealth exists.
3. DoL ≈ people specialize in what they produce
1. DoL date ≥ 1700s Britain
2. DoL regions: USA, former British territories, Western Europe, Japan
3. non-DoL: self-sufficient production of farm families or tribes of nomads + hunters
4. non-DoL regions: Asia, Africa, Latin America
4. If the production of wealth exists, then DoL exists
1. DoL is an essential component of every advanced economics system
2. There is not enough land for everyone to be self-sufficient farmers
5. If DoL succeeds, then people adopted pro-DoL laws and institutions, which implies that econ* was understood
1. Things people do when they don’t understand DoL: analogy: pushing computer buttons with no understanding, e.g. destruction of freedom of contract, inheritance, private ownership of means of production
2. (context) Roman Empire 200s-300s: feudalism replaced advanced economic system which had achieved DoL
1. (context) feudalism: self-sufficiency of small territories
6. econ* is a science
1. (Context) science: “organized body of knowledge that proceeds by deductive reasoning from elementary principles”
2. If something doesn’t function automatically and isn’t comprehensible by experience+observation alone, then science is required to understand it
3. DoL isn’t comprehensible by experience+observation alone
4. DoL doesn’t exist or function automatically

1. I rewrote the items that used the “≤” symbol to say what I meant without using that symbol. I also fixed some numbering errors (1.4.4 should have been 1.4.1, and 1.4.5 should have been 1.4.2). Finally, I moved the “(context)” note from the end of point 1.2 to the beginning to make it clearer that this point is meant to be standalone. ↩︎

Ahh, okay. Makes sense now. I think => is commonly used to mean ‘implies’ if you need an alt symbol in the future (e.g., via mathjax \implies: \implies)

Yup, it makes standalone sense with ‘implies’ now.

yw.

edit: I think this was the bit that confused me.

I thought about whether ≤ meant something other than ‘less than or equal’ but the ≥ seemed to rule that out.

I like using ≤ for implies because then we don’t need a new symbol. The symbol ≤ works, for example, when true = 1 and false = 0, like in some programming languages.

I see now how that could be confusing. I meant that DoL dates from 1700s Britain, but, now that I think about it, I’m not sure that’s what Reisman actually said. I think he also said something about ancient Rome being a DoL. Let me check…

Looking at Capitalism, I see that Reisman wrote the following regarding the DoL and Britain:

Despite its vital importance, the division of labor, as a country’s dominant form of productive organization—that is, a division-of-labor society—is a relatively recent phenomenon in history. It goes back no further than eighteenth-century Britain.

So the first DoL society was Britain in the 1700s. Not “DoL”, as I had in my tree. I’ve changed 1.3.1 in my copy of the tree to First DoL society: 1700s Britain.

Regarding the DoL in Rome, Reisman wrote:

Indeed, a country can adopt laws and institutions that cause the division of labor to decline and practically cease to exist. The leading historical example of this occurred under the Roman Empire in the third and fourth centuries of the Christian era. The result was that the relatively advanced economic system of the ancient world, which had achieved a significant degree of division of labor, was replaced by feudalism, an economic system characterized by the self-sufficiency of small territories.

So Rome in 200-400 CE “had achieved a significant degree of [DoL]”, but wasn’t a DoL society. I added a new child of 1.3 in my copy of the tree that says: Significant degree of DoL: 200s/300s Rome.

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Why start a new skill with complicated source material instead of breaking your learning down into smaller parts?

I think it didn’t occur to me, but it should have. The general principle of starting with simpler things is a good one and it would have applied here.

I have some rough ideas about outlining in general that I wrote up after a coaching call with Elliot, and I learned a little bit about outlines while doing this small section of Capitalism, but I don’t know if I know enough yet to figure out what kinds of things would be good to start with. I think I’ll bring this up with Elliot in my next session and see if he can help me.