I have explained that the modern world is the by-product of modern commerce. Not science, technology, medicine, economic growth, government, capital or religion…. It is only the by-product of modern commerce.
The distinct attributes of modernity and the sources of vigor for modern commerce are meritocracy, diversity and openness. These developed in nations with institutions of law and finance that made trust pervasively available with their structural openness (courts and banks). That modernity was able to thrive in the world of aggressive colonial trade and the expansion of the American West where the meritocratic sons of fortune could escape their hereditary elite families. Lastly, the mixture of institutions that favored openness among strangers (Free Masonry) that promoted meritocratic values and generated life in truly diverse urban communities were the fertilizer for the thriving of modern commerce.
All of this is new to most people. It is also fairly obvious to most people when they reflect on it.
There is a less visible reason that modern commerce is a stunningly successful human creation which has brought us such extraordinary benefits in such a short time (two hundred years). That reason is that modern commerce is driven by evolution of the Darwinian type.
Darwinian evolution is composed of two elements: change in the existing conditions and selection of the desirable changes. That is a perfect description of modern commerce. Business is constantly in flux and constantly moving in the direction that favors individual needs, tastes and desires.
Everything in modern commerce evolves. The 1,000 square foot local food outlet in 1860 with barrels of goods and a proprietor has evolved into a vast chain of supermarkets with hundreds of thousands of square feet each, tens of thousands of packaged goods and hundreds of thousands of employees. The airplane has evolved from a one person kite using a one cylinder gasoline engine with wing and tail controls to a 400 person behemoth that flies thousands of miles at hundreds of miles per hour in all weather as part of a global corporation transporting millions of strangers every month.
Businesses evolve. They are born in the flux of market changes, sometimes infinitely small like a river changing its course. They grow then they appeal to customers and they die when they become part of a bigger consumer driven corporation or they shut their door. In the United States at the beginning of the 21st Century there were over half a million new businesses started and only one-third of them survived ten years. Evolution gives new life to the world of commerce and continually improves the lives of its beneficiaries.
Commerce in the modern world thrives on evolution and creates a wonderful variety of products, services and livelihoods. Just as evolution creates a nearly infinite variety of species in the natural world from which we all enjoy the benefits and some distresses; it does the same in the modern commercial world.