The Battle of European Socialism vs. American Capitalism

Topics: Capitalism, Socialism, Communism Pages: 6 (2286 words) Published: April 12, 2014


“The Battle of European Socialism vs. American Capitalism”

Let the battle begin, on the left we have European Socialism and on the right we have American Capitalism! Round One: What is Capitalism? Capitalism is regarded as an economic system and a political strategy distinguished by certain characteristics whose development is conditioned by numerous variables. So how is Capitalism viewed in the United States of America? American Capitalism can be viewed in multiple fashions: they currently possess a very dominant economic system in the world, private ownership has been noticed as the main means of production, there is also the hierarchy of private owners and free wage-earners, which is organized to facilitate expanding accumulation of profit by private owners; and the production of commodities for sale. In layman’s terms, this all means that the production and distribution are owned by individuals: private ownership and free enterprise. These industries owned by individuals are believed to lead to more efficiency, lower prices, better products and rising prosperity. Now let’s take a step back into time and see where American Capitalism started and why it was started. In American history, the American economy did not necessarily become capitalist until the 1900’s. In the article A Short History of American Capitalism written by Meyer Weinberg there are three periods recorded in history that have lead America to become a capitalist country. “The first, from 1600 to 1790, is characterized by handicraft-subsistence production alongside elements of a semi-capitalist economy stemming from commercial production of tobacco. The most commercialized sectors of the economy were predominantly staffed by enslaved and semi-enslaved workers” (Weinberg). The first period exploits the idea of free enterprise. Here the owner owns the labor and the product and they are then able to sell to whomever they please. “During the second period, 1790-1865, several industries became organized along capitalist lines and some sectors of agriculture lost their subsistence character until by the period's end agriculture as a whole was producing for the market. A working class of free and ‘unfree’ elements is then growing rapidly” (Weinberg). Think back to the East India Company. The English East India Company was an English and later a British joint-stock company formed to pursue trade with the East Indies but which ended up trading mainly with the Indian subcontinent. Their main objective was no longer to grow to provide, but to grow to sell and market. “In the third period, 1865-1920, economic development attains an extraordinary pace as industry and, increasingly, agriculture becomes subject to capitalist forces. All capitalist economies are commercialized but not all commercialized economies are capitalist” (Weinberg). Through 1865-1920 something amazing happened to America. They had hit their Industrial Revolution. This revolution was the big push into Capitalism. In continuation with the history lesson, Karl Marx (the first historian of Capitalism) wrote primarily about English Capitalism as the model for Capitalism. Try as you may, it is practically impossible to extract from his three-volume “Capital” a picture of the development of American Capitalism. That is simply due to the fact that Marx did not deal centrally with the United States. Mr. Weinberg gives an excellent explanation to how Marx defined free labor with Capitalism. “Marx identified free labor with Capitalism, in the U.S. free, semi-free, and unfree labor was important; Capitalism in England evolved out of feudalism but only some of the latter's remnants could be glimpsed in the U.S.; in England, the agricultural economy first became capitalist while in the U.S. it lagged behind manufacture” (Weinberg). Overtime though the U.S. was the first modern capitalist country to develop from a colonial status, from a slave base, and...

Cited: 1. Macpherson, C.B. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964. Book.
2. Magstadt, Thomas M. Understanding Politics. Belmont: Cengage Learning, 2006. Book.
3. Shapiro, Joseph. "Health Care Lessons From France." NPR (2008): 2. Article.
4. Smith, Adam. Theory of Moral Sentiments. New York: Penguin Classics, 2010. Book.
5. Weinberg, Meyer. "A Short History of American Capitalism." January 2011. New History. Document. 1 April 2012.
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