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Has America always been capitalist? Today, the US sees itself as the heartland of the international capitalist system, its society and politics intertwined deeply with its economic system. This book panel and discussion looks at the history of North America from the founding of the colonies to debunk the myth that America is 'naturally' capitalist. From the first white-settler colonies, capitalist economic elements were apparent, but far from dominant, and did not drive the early colonial advance into the West. Society, too, was far from homogeneous - as the role of the state fluctuated. Racial identities took time to imprint, and slavery, whilst at the heart of American imperialism, took both capitalist and less-capitalist forms. Additionally, gender categories and relations were highly complex, as standards of ‘manhood’ and ‘womanhood’ shifted over time to accommodate capitalism, and as there were always some people challenging this binary. In this context, this panel will discuss these themes in the context of the publication of the recent book: How America Became Capitalist: Imperial Expansion and the Conquest of the West.


James Parisot teaches part time in Sociology at Drexel University. He has published articles in a variety of scholarly journals, is co-editor of the book American Hegemony and the Rise of Emerging Powers: Cooperation or Conflict? (Routledge, 2017), and is the author of How America Became Capitalist... Read more
Leo Panitch is emeritus professor of political science at York University, co-editor (with Greg Albo) of the Socialist Register and co-author (with Sam Gindin) of The Making of Global Capitalism (Verso).
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania's Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy. Read more