To summarize my discussion in the previous chapter, by the Second World War, imperialist development meant primarily the ability of monopoly corporations from a given nation to develop through, and at the expense of, other imperialist nations. The war decided that the liberal capitalist approach to appropriation through international exchange, rather than military conquest, was the primary means for corporate expansion. But following the war, the monopoly corporations in the leading capitalist nations lacked the political and profit incentives necessary for them to extend their investments nationally and internationally.
In large part, political obstacles to capitalist investment came from the strong needs of people within these nations to expand their economic and social development as the potential for that expansion had been realized already through government-sustained employment during wartime. Capitalists, in the United States and Western Europe especially, were able to blunt the potential expansion of government fiscal and monetary powers by limiting their use to policies which favored middle-class consumerism at the expense of full employment. The development of fiscal and monetary policies, in this form, became the first essence of postwar imperialism because it created the potential for monopoly corporate expansion along that line. The development of a form of trade unionism, especially in the United States, which was not wedded to policies of full employment, working-class solidarity, and government-based social expansion, became the second essence necessary to postwar imperialist expansion. Together, these two essences created and extended a third: a middle-income stratum among farming, small business, and working people which was both politically aligned with capital in its government policies and complementary to a consumerist form of trade unionism. But the class limits to consumption and social development within nations, which these first three essential relations represented, in turn necessitated the fourth essence of postwar imperialism. This was the development of an international relation of export-led growth. Only if