When Adam Smith first published The Wealth of Nations in 1776, I highly doubt he would have foreseen the current climate of a global imperialist system propagated solely for the interests of what we can describe as the Capitalist Class.

By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Smith

Within the historical context of Smith’s time, corporate charters were controlled by the state, somewhat similar to current no bid contracts granted various industries who service government projects of varying degrees. However, in Smith’s time, the state had complete control over these corporate charters, such as the the British Empire’s East India Company, which served as a sort of trading company gaining much profit from Opium among other resources to be exploited by British Colonialism. Just for a reference, Colonialism has manifested into modern Imperialism to a large extent, though that will be explained in greater detail further down the road.

Smith felt the government control of capital and business hindered the free flow of capital, thus slowing economic — or capital — growth. Smith believed the free flow of capital would ultimately lead to greater opportunities for all people to share in the wealth of this free flowing capital. This theme of capitalism without government restriction, or Laissez-faire capitalism, is the backbone of the modern libertarian movement. It’s understandable the sentiment of Smith given the historical context of state, or in Smith’s case, Monarchistic control over capital markets. Unlike what we now consider Communism, this state control of capital did not result in equal distribution of wealth, but rather the wealth beingĀ  hoarded by the Monarchy.

So many proponents of a modern laissez-faire economic system often refer to Smith’s work as a sort of guide or blueprint for their movement. They fail to realize that while Smith sought more equality through less state control, the historical realities of unabridged capitalism have been nothing but detrimental to the equality that Smith originally had envisioned. Smith was fiercely opposed to what we would now call corporate monopolies, which are the result of a modern symbiotic relationship between state and capitalism, resulting in the opposite of what Smith had envisioned. I believe Smith’s intentions were altruistic to an extent, but ultimately a toxic philosophy as corporations have evolved into their own semblance of “State,” with little regard for human rights and equality, but merely the perpetual and unwavering quest for wealth and hegemony.

Smith’s work would have some influence on the founding fathers as they crafted the Articles of Confederation and later the Constitution, though this influence is greatly exaggerated by those with only a tertiary knowledge of this particular period of American history. This inaccurate interpretation is used as justification for less restrictions — or regulation — on free markets, though it completely discounts a myriad of historical realities.

The path of capitalism in the 19th century would follow a somewhat laissez-faire path, as the industrial revolution ultimately led to a mass exodus from agrarian production to industrial production. The American South remained largely agrarian however, relying on slavery to fuel the tedious work in the cotton fields. The Triangle Trade, already well established by the British empire to exploit the resources of their global colonies would be the United State’s first taste of global colonialism, as this expanded the slave trade through much of the early 19th century.

As the principles and philosophies of the abolitionists started becoming more widespread and accepted by some in the educated ruling class, the morality, or lack thereof, of the slave trade would ultimately be the first devastating blow to the American capitalist system of this time. But let us be clear of the motives of the power structure that abolished slavery; Lincoln in particular. True freedom for African slaves was never the intent of Lincoln as he fully supported the notion that they would be returned to Africa, despite being alienated from that culture for generations in some instances. Lincoln softened his stance somewhat, but never swayed from the concept of the United States being a nation of and for the light-skinned races.

As the civil war raged and came to a close, an ever-growing influx of European immigrants arrived to take advantage of the growing American Industrial Revolution to escape the poverty, famines and monarchistic fascism of their homelands. But as industry grew, the concept of unions and worker equality — brought by immigrants influenced by the populist philosophies of Marx — would ultimately lead to a perpetual conflict between the workers and the Industrial Capitalists that would rage for the next 60 years, when the great depression exposed the fallacies of capitalism.

child labor in the US over 100 years ago: still alive in our corporate colonies

The unfettered capitalism granted various industries through a political system controlled by these same industries ultimately led to vast corruption and a continued exploitation of child labor and natural resources. With the railroad industry expanding the reach of American Imperialism through the concept of manifest destiny, new territory was gained through a rising military presence. What was left of the indigenous population was forcibly removed to make way for continued capitalist expansion and exploitation of resources. In essence this was the foundation that modern American Imperialism is built upon — moving into new territories and using force to enable capitalist interests to further exploit and profit from the now American controlled territories.

Throughout the late 19th and into the early 20th century, the rise of labor unions would gradually win worker’s rights piece by piece. Child labor laws would eventually be enacted as well as the 40 hour work week. But these gains came at a high price as Unions were constantly harassed, infiltrated and busted by both the police and the military at the behest of the capitalists which dictated all foreign and domestic policy of the government.

With the rise of Industrialization, came the rise of the banking industry and the stock market. The so-called invisible hand was now quite visible and dictating the laws, policy and direction of the nation. With so much liquid poured into a market that was quite unstable to say the least, the fate of an entire economy rested in the hands of those who determined the actual worth of industries based purely on speculation and profit margins. As most know, this unabated capitalism led to a complete collapse of the American economic system in 1929. The Great Depression would, for a little while at least, show how fallible and dangerous capitalism could be.

With Hoover gone and FDR in charge, real oversight of capitalism would now become, not only a necessity, but a reality. FDR, being a part of the ruling class himself, took the only practical action available to not only save the nation from a revolution, but save capitalist interests as well. Despite the criticism, and even an attempted Coup d’Etat by former war veterans propped by capitalist interests, FDR successfully and gradually restored the economy through enacting legislation that ultimately created the mix of Socialism and Capitalism that we have to this day. FDR created a variety of agencies designed to keep capitalism in check and provide jobs and public work programs for those who could not find employment in the private sector. The scope and role of the state was now permanently changed and has given us almost all of the public services so many take for granted today.

As the economy was slowly being rebuilt and working-class rebellion evaded through new social agencies and programs, the U.S. would find itself engaged in World War II. This would actually prove to be quite beneficial to the economy and capitalist interest as a whole as a large portion of resources, industry and labor were consumed with producing weapons and other war-related goodies to fight the Nazi takeover of Europe. Besides the benefits to the economy, the war would also solidify the United States as the global superpower that it continues to be — or at least pretends to be in a modern context.

With Great Britain and the USSR devastated by the war, both economically and in terms of infrastructure, the US, unaffected at home in a tangible sense, now had the economy and the resources to supplant its imperialist inclinations throughout the world. One of the more important implementations of a means of further global imperialism was the creation of the United Nations. In essence, the UN would serve as an official association of nations all dedicated to spreading modern US colonialism, or imperialism, throughout the peripheral world. This has changed somewhat as more nations, once a part of that periphery, have been invited to the UN, though their voice is largely marginalized by the interests of western, and now Asian, capitalism (yes, China is a capitalist state despite their supposed adherence to communism).

With Truman as president following the war, containment of Soviet expansion was a priority, though the aims of the Truman Doctrine were solely to protect American capitalist interests and prevent the philosophies of Marx to rear its head in the labor movement. To this end, McCarthyism would thrive and a complete and total manufacturing of disinformation about communism would become the norm — still thriving to this day. During the Truman years, the facilities and industries that served to manufacture war goods were sitting empty. With no war to propagate this now lucrative industry, Truman, at the behest of the capitalists dictating policy, entered into the Korean conflict with the stated aim of preventing communist expansion, though N. Korea was not a threat nor concern of the US other than not allowing further expansion of US imperialism into parts of Asia. The Korean Conflict proved once again that war was indeed a profitable industry supported and propagated by the federal government.

The Military Industrial Complex in action

When Eisenhower came to power in ’51, social programs started by FDR were expanded. The Interstates that we all drive on almost everyday were Eisenhower’s project — though they were constructed for the purpose of providing faster routes for the military in case of an attack. Despite some of the good to come from Eisenhower, he still continued to propagate the Red Scare and used fear of a nuclear attack to keep the masses frightened, and therefore placated. Ike also brought our Imperialist interests to the Middle East by authorizing the CIA to assassinate Iran’s first democratically elected Prime Minister after he nationalized the giant Anglo-Iranian Oil Company. That was a big no no cutting off Imperialist interests from their own natural resource — and people wonder why Iran hates us. This theme continues to this day as all presidents since Ike have used our military and intelligence resources to make sure that we have control over precious oil production in the Middle East. Eisenhower had a bit of a crisis of consciousness as he left office when he used the term Military Industrial Complex to describe the potentially detrimental relationship between the state and the private industries capitalizing on war — the term stuck as one already knows.

Eisenhower can also be credited with starting our involvement in Vietnam. Eisenhower mainly sent a small number of military personnel to observe and give strategic support to the French, whose colonial power in the region was being threatened by a growing Communist movement toward freedom from colonialism. When Kennedy took office in ’61, our involvement in Vietnam would truly escalate, as would the perpetuation of Imperialist interests throughout the third world, leading to even more CIA approved — via capitalist interests — assassinations of democratically elected leaders who fought the expansion of Imperialist interests into their countries.

That ends the first chapter of what will ultimately be a discussion of modern Totalitarian Capitalism. I have provided a simple history of the events that have led up to our modern system of Imperialism. Vietnam is where things get really interesting. Tune into tomorrow boys and girls — same pinko time, same pinko channel.