Friday, April 04, 2008

Possible reason for why the U.S. developed economically so quickly

One of many. Being a satellite of the United Kingdom in the 18th century may have given it an economic leg up that it developed for its own benefit after independence. The reasoning from this comes from Marxist historian Perry Anderson's analysis of the relationship of Rome to the successor states of the middle ages in his book "Passages from Antiquity to Feudalism".

In the book Anderson argues that the later successes of states in Western Europe were due to the previous incorporation of those states into the Roman Empire. Because the area from Britain and Gaul up to the border of Scandinavia were peripheral territories they benefitted from exposure to the Roman system of economic organization and to some extent to the ideological structure imposed on top of it in the form of legal thinking as well as some political thought. Feudalism in Western Europe, he argues, was a synthesis of tribal forms of governance with Roman forms, and although the Roman empire itself collapsed the foundations were laid that would lead to emancipation from Feudalism itself. Capitalism can partially be seen as coming from the Renaissance and the rebirth of classical wisdom and thinking in the merchant states of northern Italy and north west continental Europe.
The exposure to Rome meant that the dark ages weren't totally dark. The U.S. and England could be seen as having a similar relationship.

During the 18th century capitalism was already getting underway in England and elsewhere, and as a colony where traditional colonial control was non-existent for a long period of time proto-Capitalist features may have made it across the Atlantic and planted themselves in the United States. Independence came at a good moment for the self development of the U.S. economy because the system of colonial economic control, where England's colonies around the world were integrated into a global self contained economic scheme, was only just starting to flex its muscles in the U.S. colonies. Of course this was the trigger that lead to the struggle for independence. By getting free at the moment between being a frontier colony with little real activity either economic or otherwise and being an integrated colonial economy the U.S. may have been able to take what was present in English society and use it to turn itself into a powerhouse that rivaled and then overtook England itself.

No comments: