Thomas Russell Wingate
May 2013, March 2014
In the nineteenth century Americans expressed approval by saying, “That’s capital!”
Webster’s Second (1968) gives us these synonyms: chief, principal, leading, prominent, notable, essential, important, excellent, first-class, and splendid.
Let us now masticate some Latin.
caput: head (plural capita)
capita: persons individually considered
capitatim: by the head
per capita: by heads, for each individual
per corpus: by the body
corpus: the body (plural corpora)
corpus humanum: the human body
cerebrum: the brain
sine qua non: without which, nothing
These English offspring should be obvious: capital punishment, decapitation; corporal punishment; corporation; to incorporate; corporate policy; cerebration, cerebral; speculation, to speculate; working capital, capital gains, venture capital; to capitalize an enterprise; to capitalize on a situation or an occurrence.
When we write of cities, we apply capital in different senses.
Zurich is a financial capital, but Paris is Europe’s artistic capital.
The capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge, but the cultural capital is New Orleans.
Branson, Missouri, is the new capital of country music.
Do not stumble over a vowel.
Although San Francisco has never been a political capital, the dome on City Hall is higher than the dome on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., which has never been anything else.
When you learned the alphabet, you were taught to recognize capital (upper case) letters and small (lower case) letters. You still do, although e-mail and the slovenly are smothering the distinction.
Capitals are to be found in architecture—the sort intended to last.
Cerebration is a sine qua non. We should not be impeding ourselves.
It took me several hours to find out that my unabridged dictionary makes no mention of intellectual capital.¹
Forty years of reliable correction entitle my hefty (and fraying) exemplar to at least one spin of omission.
American Heritage Fourth (2006) defines capital rightly and gives this for intellectual property:
a product of the intellect that has commercial value, including copyrighted property such as literary or artistic works, and ideational property, such as patents, appellations of origin, business methods, and industrial processes.
Orwell warned or predicted that our language would be depleted by the powerful to cripple precision in thinking.
Sturdy terms given by Webster’s Second (1968) are not to be found in American Heritage Fourth (2006).
catallactics: in political economy, the science of commercial exchange.
chrematistics: the science of wealth; that branch of political economy relating to the manipulation of property and wealth.
The more recent dictionary is reliable here:
praxeology: the study of human conduct.
praxis: (1) practical application or exercise of a branch of learning; (2) habitual or established practice; custom.
Wikipedia treats these concepts. Take them to heart, take them to head. Then you may count yourself wealthier.
Wikipedia accurately explains what is meant by emergence, by spontaneous order, and by self-organization.
It is especially hard for the school-taught to understand that capital-ism is not a system clashing with other systems.
Capital-ism is not a system at all. It is a practice with quite an honorable history nowadays traduced by those it shelters (who will perish when the shelter is removed).
Vast impersonal forces that overwhelm us despite resistance—these are idols of the craven intelligentsia.
“Total control” and “no control” are false alternatives. We all know better ones.
To capture what we do, we need a fresher word. I suggest
upreach: a fusion of practicality, opportunity, and self-direction (especially with ethical dimensions)—individual or general.
The adjective would be upreaching; the adverb, upreachingly. A capitalist, successful or not, would be an upreacher.
Money attaches to everything we do or wish we could do. But money does not decide what we do: we decide what we do.
What is weighed only in money’s balances can never be enough, or good enough.
Acquisitiveness is not the mainspring of capital-ism.
Many alone, many in groups, suppose that “everything has its price.”
There, their imagination stops. They suppose—more, they insist—that everyone else agrees with them deep inside.
You do well to hesitate.
They use many words but will not have the last ones.
“For wisdom is better than rubies, and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it. … How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!”²
You may be familiar with such ancient teachings. Latter-day Saints are privy to newer revelation.
“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”³
Intellectual capital is the only wealth we take with us.
1 See Intellectual Property, Stretching Greek, and
Freedom and Ability on website.
2 Proverbs 8:11, 16:16. See also Job 28:12-28.
3 Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19 (Illinois,