… is from page 8 of the 1993 Third Edition of the late Carlo Cipolla’s 1976 book, Before the Industrial Revolution: European Society and Economy, 1000-1700:
[I]t is undeniable that one of the main characteristics of preindustrial Europe, as with all traditional agricultural societies, was a striking contrast between the abject misery of the mass and the affluence and magnificence of a limited number of very rich people.
DBx: Keep this reality in mind when you next hear someone complain that economic inequality is worsened, or even created, by capitalism. It’s true, for instance, that most people in capitalist societies today fly coach while rich people fly first class (or even have their own private jets). Yet no one in his or her right mind would trade this inequality – or any other inequality found in capitalist societies – for the inequality that reigns in non-capitalist societies.