By H. W. Brands
In a grand-scale narrative background, the bestselling writer of 2 finalists for the Pulitzer Prize now captures the a long time while capitalism was once at its so much unbridled and some breathtakingly prosperous businessmen totally remodeled the US from an agrarian economic climate to an international energy.
The years among the Civil battle and the top of the 19th century observed the wholesale transformation of the US from a land of small farmers and small businessmen into an commercial large. pushed via unfathomably prosperous and robust businessmen like J. P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, armies of employees, either female and male, have been harnessed to a brand new imaginative and prescient of big undefined. A society rooted within the soil grew to become one dependent in towns, and legions of immigrants have been attracted to American seashores. What’s extra, in achieving its revolution, capitalism threatened to eclipse American democracy. “What do I care concerning the law?” bellowed Cornelius Vanderbilt. “Hain’t I bought the power?” He did, and with it he and the opposite capitalists reshaped each point of yank lifestyles. In American Colossus, H.W. manufacturers portrays the emergence, in a remarkably few minutes, of a recognizably smooth the US.
The capitalist revolution left now not a unmarried zone or element of yankee existence untouched. It roared around the South, wrenching that zone from its feudal previous and integrating the southern economic system into the nationwide one. It burst over the West, dictating the destruction of local American economies and peoples, using the exploitation of traditional assets, and making the frontier of cost a company 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 previous period, taking pictures one significant celebration and 1/2 the opposite, inspiring the production of a 3rd social gathering and deciding upon the problems over which all 3 waged a number of the bitterest battles in American historical past.
Brands’s spellbinding narrative fantastically depicts the oil gushers of western Pennsylvania, the increase, in Chicago, of the 1st skyscraper, the exploration of the Colorado River, the farm animals drives of the West, and the early passionate sparks of union existence. via 1900 the the United States 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 used to be at its sharpest, and capitalism triumphed.
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Extra info for American Colossus: The Triumph of Capitalism, 1865-1900
Therefore, Smith’s overly idealized and somewhat mythical image of the market is wholly insufficient for understanding the modern world. Notice that within his discussion about the division of labour, Marx has once more shifted his definition of a commodity to being something that can be written as commodity = use-value + exchange-value. If labour is the substance of value, then both use-value and exchange-value are derived from labour that has been objectified in commodities. Yet every commodity’s usevalue emerges from ‘productive activity of a definite kind, carried on with a definite aim’ (132–3), like making a coat to keep someone else warm.
The importance of speed means that ultimately there is no reason why we need to have gold as money (as coins). Money could as easily be paper notes, which are faster and easier to transport, thus facilitating Commodities and Money Shapiro 01 chap 01 51 51 15/1/08 11:06:33 exchange. If money can be dematerialized from metal to paper, there is also no reason why it cannot be further dematerialized to go from being actual paper notes to computer-screen notations of credit, which is even easier to move around distant buyers and sellers.
If there is a poor crop, then it takes more time and labour to get the material to make 20 yards of cotton, meaning that as the value of the cotton increases, then one coat will be traded for less of it. Since the ratio between these commodities can be altered so easily, the equation does not function as well as a longlasting standard. We have not really got to the source of how commodities are made abstract and equal to one another. So rather than think of cotton and coats ‘relatively’, we need to find some ‘equivalent’ that both cotton and coats can be compared to, something more stable that can represent value over time.