An Economy Based on Plunder
Capitalists have claimed responsibility for America’s past economic success. Let’s begin by setting the record straight. American success had little to do with capitalism. This is not to say that the US would have had more success with something like Soviet central planning.
Prior to 1900 when the frontier was closed, America’s success was a multi-century long success based on the plunder of a pristine environment and abundant natural resources. Individuals and companies were capitalized simply by occupying the land and using the resources present.
As the population grew and resources were depleted, the per capita resource endowment declined.
America got a second wind from World War I, which devastated European powers and permitted the emergence of the US as a budding world power. World War II finished off Europe and put economic and financial supremacy in Washington’s hands. The US dollar seized the world reserve currency role from the British pound, enabling the US to pay its bills by printing money. The world currency role of the dollar, more than nuclear weapons, has been the source of American power. Russia has equal or greater nuclear weapons power, but it is the dollar not the ruble that is the currency in which international payments are settled.
The world currency role made the US the financial hegemon. This power together with the IMF and World Bank enabled the US to plunder foreign resources the way vanishing American resources had been plundered.
We can conclude that plunder of natural resources and the ability to externalize much of the cost have been major contributors right through the present day to the success of American capitalism. Michael Hudson has described the plunder process in his many books and articles (for example, http://www.unz.com/mhudson/u-s-economic-warfare-and-likely-foreign-defenses/ ), as has John Perkins in Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.
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