U.S. Capitalist Development since 1776: Of, By, and for Which People?

U.S. Capitalist Development since 1776: Of, By, and for Which People?

U.S. Capitalist Development since 1776: Of, By, and for Which People?

U.S. Capitalist Development since 1776: Of, By, and for Which People?

Synopsis

This book is a provocative analysis of the historical development of American capitalism and its contemporary social and economic crisis. Its work of synthesis that began with the founding of the Republic and draws from economics, history and other social sciences, with particular use of insights from Marx, Veblen, and Keynes. The author sees the achievements the problems, and the tragedies of U.S. history as stemming from the needs and the ability of American capitalism to expand and explore in ever changing ways. While capitalism claims to enhance production and freedon, in the author's view, it has done so with great costs and distortions of the human spitit and to the natural environment. Its production, income, and wealth are distributed as unevenly and unjustly as are its freedoms and its political and economic power. Looking to the future, the author writes, If the United States emerges from the ongoing crisis without a significant alteration of its capitalist institutions in directions that have human and environmental needs rather than capital's - as guiding standards, it will do so by beconing more centralized, more militarized, more oppressive, and more heartless at home and abroad.

Excerpt

When, on July 4, 1776, the United States of America came into existence by dissolving "all political connections between them[selves] and the State of Great Britain," they did so with a momentous and stirring declaration that still today is one part of those many factors pushing people toward democracy over the world: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." in the early 1970s there was a great hustle and bustle in the land, as thousands of people and hundreds of institutions began to make preparations to celebrate the 200th birthday of that great event. I was among them. Originally, I wrote a book entitled The Twisted Dream, its intent being to show what had gone wrong with "The American Dream," and why; to analyze the yawning gap between the magnificent ideals and the disturbing realities of our nation.

To do so, it was necessary to show that the dream itself had been defective. After all, among the dozens of signers of the Declaration were many slaveholders; and if some of those, like Jefferson, had their reservations about designating human beings as property, most did not. and although the Civil War of less than a century later was not fought only over the dissolution of slavery, it may be asserted that it would not have been fought at all if that issue had not been at its hot center. That is, the attachment to slaveholding could not be undone without war--the bloodiest war in all of history, up to that time.

These matters were clearly on President Lincoln's mind on November 19, 1863, when, standing on the bloodiest battleground of that bloodiest war, he could find only one justification for it: "That this government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." But the Civil War meant more than the end of chattel slavery in the United States. Among the several conflicts between the North and the South (and the West) that led inexorably to war were those arising from the frustrated needs of the rising industrial and financial capitalists of the North, needs frustrated by the decisive . . .

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