In the reading from the 1619 project, America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black People Made it One written by Nikole Hannah – Jones highlights key ideas significant to American history. These key ideas being: white leaders created a nation of inequality where colored individuals were inferior and slavery was the causation(build-up) of democracy. Written in a previous blog post focused on capitalism, slaves were used for the benefits of expanding land, picking cotton and more. Colored people were exploited as slaves helped America expand and grow to become the place it is today. While slaves were used for the idea of capitalism, they were also the reason America became a democracy. As mentioned, white leaders created a nation of inequality which contradicts what the rights promised were. Jones pushes this claim in the reading by arguing that colored individuals didn’t have these rights, also being the reason more and more people fought against it over history. This was what led to democracy, a nation where the people get to decide. After slaves were freed, their rights were still limited, meaning what was promised wasn’t granted. Freed slaves weren’t allowed to vote, own property, get married and more. The fight continued through history until their rights were granted, leading to a democratic land.
From this reading, I grasped a better understanding of the time period of slavery and how it led to a democratic nation. I also notice not much of a change in present day America because as of recently, there has been a movement for BLM (Black Lives Matter) meaning there is still inequality upon us today. There’s also statuses to climb in America or any nation to differentiate the leaders at the top and the poor. The fact that America claimed its independence from the British due to the Declaration of Independence but still chose to maintain the rights to own slaves makes me question if the founding fathers saw a correlation to their actions with slaves. As slaves were still humans but the founding fathers allowed Americans to use them as properties, not completely alike but the British were holding America as land.
The reading “Capitalism, A Very Short Introduction” by James Fulcher goes in-depth into the history of capitalism. Fulcher regards capitalism as “essentially the investment of money in the expectation of making a profit.” (Fulcher 2) The scarcity and distance fundamentally determine the outcome of an expedition. This reading also introduced three forms of capitalism. The three forms being: merchant capitalism, capitalist production, and financial capitalism.
Merchant capitalism being the earliest form of capitalism (started in the seventeenth century), was the term given to the idea of traveling to source undersupplied goods to make a profit. This journey was accompanied by a lot of risk and distance brought along more profit, along with the increased risk factor already present regardless. Usually, these trips would be made with multiple ships to avoid losses, especially under unknown circumstances. Through this method, there is a higher chance of bringing back goods and making a profit.
Capitalist production was coined to the idea of private ownership of businesses in hopes of gaining a profit. Fulcher introduced capitalist production by telling the story of James M’Connel and John Kennedy, who have made an earning in the manufacture of cotton machinery. This portion of the reading continues as it informs the readers of their success. Often, leaders involved in capitalist production would profit off their employees from their work and pay low wages. This caused conflict in the workforce as workers would constantly be working to help produce profit for the employers and the number of time workers had split between working and leisure time was up for debate.
The most modern term regarding capitalism is financial capitalism. This form of capitalism concerns financial enterprises. An example in the modern world can include the stock market. If an individual manages to play their cards right in this market, one can gain a considerable profit. If you are unlucky like Nick Leeson, you can miss out on a massive profit to the point of being in the negative digits. Leeson’s losses resulted in the bankruptcy of Barings Bank.
As Fulcher points out in the reading, each form of capitalism is very different, but all are subject to the same goal of investing money to gain a profit in return. “The various business activities involved are about as different as they could be, but all involve the investment of money in order to make a profit, the essential feature of capitalism.” (Fulcher 14) The question arises as to why leaders follow the acts of capitalism, knowing its unethical practices. One can hypothesize that it is for one’s values to dominate in society. This can be seen in how leaders supported the idea of slavery and stripped African Americans of their rights, especially when stated in the constitution (changed after ratifying the 13th amendment). I also find it interesting how in history, many sought rare goods. However, in the modern-day fashion industry or overall, teens tend to follow trends to the point of ignoring ethical practices. Teens today shop from SheIn, namely, one of the most unethical and unsustainable brands. This topic catches my eye as I am heavily invested in the sustainable fashion industry. It would be intriguing to look into the history of fashion and textiles to see what drew this change.