February 8, 2009

Readings: Incan Economy

Not the least surprising feature of this economic system was that if functioned without money. True, the lack of currency did not surprise the Spanish invaders -- much of Europe did without money until the eighteenth century. But, the Inka did not even have markets. Economists would predict that this nonmarket economy -- vertical socialism it has been called--would produce gross inefficiencies. These surely occurred, but the errors were of surplus, not want. The Spanish invaders were stunned to find warehouses overflowing with untouched cloth and supplies. But to the Inka the brimming coffers signified prestige and plenty; It was all part of the plan. Most important, Tawantinsuyu "managed to irradicate hunger," the Peruvian novelist Mario Varsa Llosa noted.
- From 1491 by Charles Mann (p. 81)

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