Capitalism, Internationalism and Socialism in A Time of Globalization

By Geiger, Pedro P. | Comparative Civilizations Review, Spring 2010 | Go to article overview

Capitalism, Internationalism and Socialism in A Time of Globalization


Geiger, Pedro P., Comparative Civilizations Review


This paper will debate Marxist propositions, presented since the mid-19"1 century, about capitalism, socialism and internationalism. According to Marx, socialism would replace capitalism and internationalism would occur through the dissolution of nation states. Taking into account recent moves toward globalization and measures imposed by national governments in the face of the deep financial crisis of 2008, it is interesting to compare Marxist theories with some historical events that have happened since the 19th century. Much has occurred that Marx did not predict.

Capitalist Transitions Since the 19th Century

Capitalist modes of production have shown a sequence of significant transitions since the mid 19th century. The financial sector has increased continuously, absolutely, and relatively.

Capitalism began in Great Britain, and London became the main world financial center, the largest world metropolis. Investments from capitalist countries were directed not only to the other industrialized countries or their colonies, but also to the newly independent countries of the periphery.

By the beginning of the 20th century, for instance, the largest foreign investment in Brazil was made by Light & Power, a company with headquarters in Toronto, Canada. Working with English, American and Canadian capital, Light & Power started its investments with a nominal $10 million, applied to acquiring urban equipment in the main Brazilian cities, Rio de Janeiro and Säo Paulo.

Holding for many years the monopoly of all urban services (electricity, gas, telephone, water supply, sewage, and tramway transportation), the company was nicknamed by the population of Rio de Janeiro, at that time the federal capital of Brazil, the Canadian octopus. But it played a fundamental role in the development of Säo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro; they became the two main modern national metropolises.

During the 1930s, Neville Chamberlain showed his country's weakness, unlike its strength during the beginnings of national industrial capitalism, by appeasing Hitler. International financial capitalism was more likely to negotiate than intimidate. Great Britain was replaced by the United States and New York became the world's leader of international financing after World War II.

American Industrialization During and Since the 19th Century

Among the new characteristics introduced were:

* The continuous in-migration of people and capital. Unlike Europe, in the US national identity was no longer related to ancestry; citizenship could be earned through application and for children of immigrants, through birth.

* The expansion of the country, from coast to coast, and the formation of a national industrial developed economy on a continental scale.

* Mobility of the population made possible social betterment (the self-made man is an American staple).

* This social mobility created a social atmosphere where it was possible to put production far ahead of consumption. This was done by introducing new products, new models, industrializing food, developing advertising, and introducing a popular credit system (credit cards).

* American geography provided two vast coasts on two main oceans, thus offering the possibility for the United States to become simultaneously a territorial and a sea power.

The diversity of national origins among the migrants certainly influenced the desire for peace, particularly between America and Europe. The League of Nations, created after the First World War, was President Wilson's idea, but the US itself did not join because of political differences within the US Senate.

Later, because of strong isolationist beliefs, although many people supported England's struggle against Nazi Germany, the US only entered in the Second World War after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

Two more observations about the evolution of the US:

* In his Manifesto, Marx expressed doubt about his own views for the future, considering much unknowable about developments in the New World. …

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