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

By Douglas Dowd | Go to book overview

2
Capitalism

Unhappy, eagle wings and beak, chicken brain Weep (it is frequent in human affairs) weep for the terrible magnificence of the means The ridiculous incompetence of the reasons, the bloody and shabby Pathos of the result.1

Capitalism is a world economic system with a global division of labor. Its emergence and development over the past few centuries has been the dominant force in world history. Capitalist nations have certain basic characteristics in common; each capitalist nation also has defining characteristics that set it apart from and often in conflict with the others. For certain analytical purposes, the defining national adjective--U.S., Japanese, British, German--is critical; for other purposes the noun "capitalism" is decisive. For our purposes it is essential to grasp the meaning of both. As Maurice Dobb put it:

Capitalism is not a system that is cut to a certain pattern and remains the same for all time. Product of a complex process of historical development, capitalism is itself continually subject to historical development. It changes from one decade to the next, it is different in many respects in one country from what it is in another country, according to the specific features of that country and according to the peculiarities of that country's history... But that does not mean that it is not valuable to pick out and to study certain general features of capitalism--to isolate and analyze certain relationships that are typical of capitalism in all its varied forms and manifestations. In fact it is essential to do this as a preliminary to a more detailed study, if we are to see the wood for the trees--if we are to grasp the general lie of the land as well as be acquainted with each separate bit of it.2

-55-

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures and Tables xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Notes xxv
  • Acknowledgments xxvii
  • 1 - Economics and Economies, Past and Present 1
  • Reading Suggestions 39
  • 2 - Capitalism 55
  • A Summing Up 79
  • Notes 81
  • 3 - Business as a System of Power 93
  • Reading Suggestion 123
  • 4 - Growth and Development, Prosperity and Depression 137
  • Reading Suggestions 187
  • 5 - Income, Wealth, and Power 209
  • Reading Suggestions 252
  • 6 - Nature and Nurture; Country and City; Waste and Destruction 269
  • Reading Suggestions 321
  • 7 - World Economy and Imperialism 337
  • Reading Suggestions 400
  • Notes 404
  • 8 - The State 419
  • Reading Suggestions 472
  • 9 - Needs and Possibilities 493
  • Reading Suggestion 530
  • Name Index 543
  • Subject Index 549
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