By H. W. Brands

In a grand-scale narrative heritage, the bestselling writer of 2 finalists for the Pulitzer Prize now captures the many years whilst capitalism was once at its such a lot unbridled and some breathtakingly filthy rich businessmen totally remodeled the USA from an agrarian economic climate to a global strength.

The years among the Civil conflict and the top of the 19th century observed the wholesale transformation of the USA from a land of small farmers and small businessmen into an commercial vast. pushed via unfathomably filthy rich and strong businessmen like J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, armies of staff, either female and male, have been harnessed to a brand new imaginative and prescient of huge undefined. A society rooted within the soil turned one established in towns, and legions of immigrants have been interested in American shorelines. What’s extra, in attaining its revolution, capitalism threatened to eclipse American democracy. “What do I care concerning the law?” bellowed Cornelius Vanderbilt. “Hain’t I received the power?” He did, and with it he and the opposite capitalists reshaped each point of yankee existence. In American Colossus, H.W. manufacturers portrays the emergence, in a remarkably couple of minutes, of a recognizably smooth the US.

The capitalist revolution left now not a unmarried region or point of yankee lifestyles untouched. It roared around the South, wrenching that sector from its feudal earlier and integrating the southern financial system into the nationwide one. It burst over the West, dictating the destruction of local American economies and peoples, riding the exploitation of typical assets, and making the frontier of payment a enterprise frontier in addition. It crashed around the city panorama of the East and North, turning towns into engines of wealth and poverty, opulence and squalor. It swamped the politics of an past period, taking pictures one significant get together and 1/2 the opposite, inspiring the construction of a 3rd social gathering and deciding on the problems over which all 3 waged a few of the bitterest battles in American heritage.

Brands’s spellbinding narrative superbly depicts the oil gushers of western Pennsylvania, the increase, in Chicago, of the 1st skyscraper, the exploration of the Colorado River, the livestock drives of the West, and the early passionate sparks of union lifestyles. via 1900 the the US he portrays is wealthier than ever, but prosperity is precarious, inequality rampant, and democracy stretched skinny. American Colossus is an unforgettable portrait of the years while the competition among capitalism and democracy was once at its sharpest, and capitalism triumphed.

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Marx turns to explore the nature of this value-form in the next section. Before moving on, we should recognize that Marx has silently, but significantly, begun to make a distinction that he continues to make from this point on throughout the volume. Having said that use-values cannot be quantified, since they are by definition qualitative factors, Marx Commodities and Money Shapiro 01 chap 01 21 21 15/1/08 11:06:30 increasingly drops use-values out of the discussion. From here on, when he uses the word ‘value’, he really means exchange-value and when he wants to refer to use-value, he often instead writes ‘material wealth’ (136) to highlight the material aspect of use, rather than the abstract feature of exchange.

This form of society did not have independent individuals like Crusoe, since everyone was caught up in relations of collective subordination and domination, serfs to lords, laity to the Church. Unlike the modern market, which makes producers and consumers anonymous to each other, early modern hierarchies were known and visible to all. Since ‘relations of personal dependence form the social foundation’ in feudalism, as the serf annually owes labour directly to the manor’s lord, there is ‘no need for labour and its products to assume a fantastic form different from their reality’.

As exchange-value becomes separated from use-value, it seems as if objects have needs of their own, which they satisfy by themselves in ways that divorce the representation of value from the ‘social process’ that created it. Commodities and Money Shapiro 01 chap 01 39 39 15/1/08 11:06:32 Because the writers of ‘political economy’, the bourgeois defenders of the market, have ‘incompletely’ analysed labour as the source of value and labour-time as its measure, Marx argues that they have never asked about the historical origins of the current system, taking it to be an unquestioned advance over the past in the same way, Marx says, in which the Christian church sees pre-Christian religions as worthless.

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American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900 by H. W. Brands
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