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

By Douglas Dowd | Go to book overview

educational deficiencies, widespread drug use, and the like. There must be and there are alternatives to this unfolding social disaster.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire has been cited innumerable times by critics of modern western society, as though what happened there and then could happen here and now. It cannot, because the societies have considerably more important differences than similarities. Some of the similarities are nonetheless worth pondering. One of the most respected historians of Rome, in a chapter entitled "The Disorganization of Public Service," wrote (in 1898) a condemnation of late Roman society that brought together the interaction of poverty, inequality of income and wealth, overweening power and rampant greed which, with only minor adjustments, might have been written of the United States today:

It will be seen that in a society in which poverty is almost branded with infamy, poverty is steadily increasing and wealth becoming more insolent and aggressive; that the disinherited, in the face of an omnipotent government, are carrying brigandage even up to the gates of Rome; that parents are selling their children into slavery; that public buildings are falling into decay; that the service on the great post roads is becoming disorganized... [F]raud and greed are everywhere triumphant, ...the rich are growing richer and more powerful, while the poor are becoming poorer and more helpless...

The overwhelming tragedy of that age was the result not of violent and sudden calamities; it was prepared by the slow, merciless action of social and economic laws, and deepened by the perverse energy of government, and the cupidity and cruelty of the rich and highly placed.55


Reading Suggestions

A useful analytical introduction to the structures of income and wealth is in Edwards, et al., The Capitalist System, Chapter 6, "Class and Inequality," as are the following two chapters on "Male Dominance" and "Racism," noted earlier in the text. Lars Osberg, Economic Inequality in the United States ( Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1984) and Ben Seligman, Permanent Poverty: An American Syndrome ( New York: Quadrangle, 1968) are excellent for both breadth and depth. More theoretical is DavidM. Gordon

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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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