The link between British imperialism and US commercialization

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By Val Reynoso

The capitalist economy is reliant on colonialism and imperialism in the Global South in order to sustain itself.

The India House is where imports were managed in New York from India, which was colonized by England in 1757. After defeating Nawab Siraj-ud-daula at the Battle of Plassey in 1757, the English East India Company took political control of Bengal. Following the Great Mutiny-Rebellion of 1857, the British colonial rule over India was switched from the English East India Company to the Crown Raj. Due to this, British colonial affairs over India were managed by a secretary of state for India who was a member of the British cabinet, in place of the former court of directors in London representing the English East India Company to the Crown Raj.

Following the reestablishment of British imperialism in the Indian subcontinent, the British Indian army and civil bureaucracy were reorganized so that India would further increase British imperial hegemony. In this same time period, what became known as the U.S. was also a British colony from which resources, Indigenous land and Indigenous and African enforced slave labor were also being exploited for the augmentation of the British empire.

The India House was one of several locations where exploited goods were managed for the benefit of the British empire. This is also emblematic of social Darwinism, as the India House is an asset through which the British empire asserted its racial, class, and capitalist-imperialist supremacy, along with the idea that the colonizers were the winners and the populations of the Global South who were and continue to be exploited by the West are the losers.

Social Darwinism, Global South labor exploitation and justification of capitalism-imperialism are also found in the section titled “Artisan Trades in Wartime” by Catherine W. Bishir. Bishir details that the liberated city of New Bern had provided Black artisans with profitable employment opportunities in catering to soldiers and refugees during wartime with limited competition from whites. Cooks, gardeners, butchers, drivers, housekeepers and barbers also experienced an augment in their earnings during the war. Skilled workers took advantage of every new opportunity to advance their business and increase their wealth.

In this example Bishir provides demonstrates that the income of the Black working-class was reliant on industries that imperialist wars spearheaded by the U.S. necessitated. The U.S. was expanding its empire abroad as it simultaneously continues to exploit its marginalized populations domestically, which manufacture products to aid imperialism and managing products imported by imperialists. Moreover, this is also emblematic of social Darwinism since those who are enslaved and underclass are deemed losers and the imperialists who spread hegemony are deemed the winners, similar to the representation of the India House and British imperialism in India.

Val Reynoso is a Politics and Human Rights undergrad, journalist and Marxist-Leninist activist.

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