On several recent occasions when speaking to largely intellectual and academic audiences, I have cited Ernest Gellner who wrote that “Capitalism differs from God in one important respect: where it does not exist, no one will bother to invent it.” The quotation has invariably been greeted with appreciative laughter. It was evident to me that the laughter essentially stemmed from the assumption that capitalism was so flawed and undesirable that no one could possibly have wished for it, let alone intentionally brought it into existence. But this assumption was neither mine nor Gellner’s, so to make that clear I have several times since added to Gellner’s a remark of Fernand Braudel’s to the effect that “The great thing about capitalism is that no one invented it.” Capitalism, both scholars maintain, emerged “spontaneously” under a set of special historical conditions. It was not imposed by elites at the top of the social hierarchy to realize their articulated collective interests or ideological worldview despite ultimately producing a social hierarchy of its own, nor was it the creation of a social movement mobilizing people from below.