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Short Listed for the 2011 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize Unable to analyze the dynamics of specific forms of social labour in the antebellum U.S., most historians of the US Civil War have ignored its deep social roots. To search out these roots, Post applies the theoretical insights from the transition debates to the historical literature on the U.S. to produce a Short Listed for the 2011 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize Unable to analyze the dynamics of specific forms of social labour in the antebellum U.S., most historians of the US Civil War have ignored its deep social roots. To search out these roots, Post applies the theoretical insights from the transition debates to the historical literature on the U.S. to produce a new analysis of the origins of American capitalism.


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Short Listed for the 2011 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize Unable to analyze the dynamics of specific forms of social labour in the antebellum U.S., most historians of the US Civil War have ignored its deep social roots. To search out these roots, Post applies the theoretical insights from the transition debates to the historical literature on the U.S. to produce a Short Listed for the 2011 Isaac and Tamara Deutscher Memorial Prize Unable to analyze the dynamics of specific forms of social labour in the antebellum U.S., most historians of the US Civil War have ignored its deep social roots. To search out these roots, Post applies the theoretical insights from the transition debates to the historical literature on the U.S. to produce a new analysis of the origins of American capitalism.

50 review for The American Road to Capitalism: Studies in Class-Structure, Economic Development and Political Conflict, 1620-1877

  1. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Capitalism did not arrive in North America with the British colonists. In a convincing and powerful synthesis of historical evidence and the materialist method, Post shows that capitalism developed much later, thru the development of agriculture in the North as the end of readily available land and the growth of debt forced subsistence farmers to sell on the market to survive. And capitalism in the US did not develop peacefully. Post puts the development of capitalism in the context of class str Capitalism did not arrive in North America with the British colonists. In a convincing and powerful synthesis of historical evidence and the materialist method, Post shows that capitalism developed much later, thru the development of agriculture in the North as the end of readily available land and the growth of debt forced subsistence farmers to sell on the market to survive. And capitalism in the US did not develop peacefully. Post puts the development of capitalism in the context of class struggle, from Shays rebellion through the Civil War. The final chapter, on how liberal democracy developed to oppose the radicalism of black Southern farmers and Northern white and black workers after the civil war, is especially good. This was a challenging read, but very rewarding. In a way, I think Charlie has rewritten US history, finally putting it in the context of the development of capitalism -- and the struggles of workers and slaves for a different and better life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Easily one of the best books I’ve read in a while. There’s just tons of information, it’s extremely well-researched, as well as theoretically rigorous. According to the author, this books is a “Marxist intervention into the historiographical debates concerning the development of capitalism in America” with a special focus on the role of Northern agriculture and Southern plantation slavery in that development. Post, a member of the “political Marxist” school (à la Brenner and Wood), traces the de Easily one of the best books I’ve read in a while. There’s just tons of information, it’s extremely well-researched, as well as theoretically rigorous. According to the author, this books is a “Marxist intervention into the historiographical debates concerning the development of capitalism in America” with a special focus on the role of Northern agriculture and Southern plantation slavery in that development. Post, a member of the “political Marxist” school (à la Brenner and Wood), traces the development of capitalism as a process of interclass conflicts primarily over land-rights in America. Through a historical materialist lens he reveals how struggles between various classes of producers in America (independent yeomen farmers, proto-capitalist merchants, industrial capitalist, southern planters, etc.) were the basis for the social conflagrations and patterns of economic development in the 17th through 19th centuries (from farmer revolts like Shay’s Rebellion to the Civil War). He is theoretically consistent throughout and draws upon a ton of scholarship to support what I think is a very convincing story. I’d say there are two main original claims that this book makes: 1) The industrial revolution that brought capitalist development to its completion in America was the result of a prior agrarian revolution in the Northern states in the decades following the revolution. 2) That plantation slavery played both a helpful and harmful role in the development of capitalist production relations at different times. It was a spur to capitalist expansion as long as merchant capital was the dominant engine of growth but became an obstacle to it as soon as industrial capital superseded the merchant class after the crisis of 1837-42. In making his case, Post constantly centers the “social property relations” and their consequent “rules of reproduction” in his analysis making it a consistently Marxist perspective that properly illuminates the dynamics of class struggle, production, and history in the US. I will definitely be checking out more from the Historical Materialism series, of which this is the 28th installment.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Matthias

  4. 5 out of 5

    Matthijs Krul

  5. 4 out of 5

    Oli Vert

  6. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Burton

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    Teresa Stern

  8. 4 out of 5

    s54

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ronnie

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tad Tietze

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fernanda Gómez Vasquez

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Maher

  13. 5 out of 5

    Maya Gonzalez

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    Arno Noack

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    Flynn

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    Bill Crane

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    Kalle Vaarala

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tiarnan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Royall

  20. 4 out of 5

    Phillip Homburg

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pj Blair

  22. 5 out of 5

    Liu

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Medina

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bhaskar Sunkara

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rodney Ulyate

  26. 4 out of 5

    Siddartha

  27. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  28. 5 out of 5

    Levin Ahmad

  29. 4 out of 5

    Tristan

  30. 4 out of 5

    Eric Lundin

  31. 4 out of 5

    David Walker

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    S

  33. 5 out of 5

    Charles

  34. 4 out of 5

    Jules Frakes

  35. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Warshay

  36. 5 out of 5

    Arash

  37. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  38. 5 out of 5

    Alex Birchall

  39. 5 out of 5

    A

  40. 4 out of 5

    Vince

  41. 4 out of 5

    Nicholas

  42. 4 out of 5

    Melanie

  43. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  44. 5 out of 5

    Rae Young

  45. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  46. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

  47. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  48. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  49. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  50. 5 out of 5

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