Since British industrialization is a byproduct of British global political domination, there is no anti-empire voice within British elite class. Since US industrialization is not a byproduct of global political domination by the US, there is a traditional voice against empire within US elite class.
This article intends to discuss the three centuries of Anglo hegemony under British Empire and the U.S, how are the different and continuations of the same process. How both empires grew, gathered strength, fell into inherent contradictions and gradually dying or died out. How the elites of two empires think about empire and why the US can be more damaging will be discussed too.
After getting defeated in the Crusade wars the West Europeans tried to circumvent the Eurasian Silk Road dominated by Turks, Arabs, Iranians by opening new sea routes. Finally last decades of 15th century AD, Iberians were able to do it. Columbus found the way to go Asia by moving West in the round Earth and Vasco da Gama found the way to go to Asia by rounding the southernmost tip of Africa. Since then sea route proved the cheaper way for International trade and West Europeans replaced Turks, Arabs, and Iranians as controller of International trade.
In 16th century AD, Portuguese dominated seas and seized important ports from Africans and Asians. Dutch started challenging Portuguese domination and by late 16th century and by the 17th century they started taking control of not only ports but also different states of South East Asia. English and French started replacing Portuguese and Dutch as the main controller of International trade by the mid-17th century. English and French both competed for control of important ports and states of Asia and Africa. By early 18th century, English and Scottish united to give birth to even stronger the British Isles. World’s largest producer then was China and South Asia.
After the battle of Plassey in 1757 Bengal fell and British started amassing huge wealth which gave it the competitive advantage over French. Also, rest of South Asia fell to British soon. British used this opportunity to break down the production advantage of South Asia and tried to reverse the trade position. This means British not only remained content by dominating International trade but tried to dominate production as well. South Asia being colony was forcefully deindustrialized and turned into the raw material supplier. This helped Britain to usher in Industrial Revolution. Even up to 1848, China was the top producer. British being unable to compete with Chinese production started Opium War against China.
After Opium War, China was forced open to British production as well. Thus by 1860s, Britain became the workshop of global production through Industrial Revolution. By 1900, British production started facing overproduction crisis and it tried to prevent it by investing abroad in its colonies. The US and Germany started posing the challenge to British domination in production. More newly industrialized countries were searching colonies for raw materials and investment. After two World Wars, British Empire collapsed and its political domination came to an end. The point is British grew as a colonial power first to dominate global trade, then to have raw materials for its Industrial revolution and finally to invest in colonies to prevent overproduction crisis. British capitalism was impossible if it had no colonies. Control over global geopolitics is prior and capitalism is merely an effect in case of British.
When Britain and other West European countries were evicting farmers from its countryside for lucrative wool trade, the evicted farmers were migrating to the newly invented American continent. These people formed the US in 1776 by defeating British government. These people first seized land from the native people by killing them. Then they started building their cities, trade, etc. using the raw materials of the land they had been seizing. Thus rather than controlling colonies and looting its resources for industrialization, US killed natives, took the land and used its resources for industrialization. Thus US industrialization was not a result of colonial control. The US does need to have a global geopolitical domination and control of foreign lands for ushering its industrialization, unlike British.
By 1890s, US was already largest producer and exporter in the world. It is only after US fell into overproduction crisis that demand for controlling global geopolitics gained momentum among US policymakers. By 1944, in Brettonwoods Agreement, European colonial powers being devastated by world wars accepted US currency as main global currency. And since then, British empire gave in to invisible USA empire. Fighting communism was the main dogma of US empire. As capitalism was gripped by over-accumulation crisis and anti-colonialism was sweeping Asia, Africa, and Latin America, Communism under the Soviet Union became a formidable challenge to USA hegemony.
While China, Cuba, Indo-China gradually falling under Communism, US was ruthlessly suppressing Communist movements in Latin America, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc. But fall of Brettonwoods Agreement changed the course of US hegemony. The US invented a new way to prevent overproduction crisis. US capitalism found profitable investment demand in asset trading where asset prices are inflated by channeling debt into US economy. The debt was channeled into US economy by petrodollar geopolitical arrangements.
Thus, the US by 1970s created a hegemony where Third World countries would give it credit and US will make the profit by asset trading by inflating asset prices with this credit. The US went further by specializing in asset trading and exporting its entire industrial manufacturing base to Third World cheap labor countries especially China. This hegemony has now made US indebted to China and other countries making the US deindustrialized. Thus there is a huge section with US elites who want to debunk the invisible empire.
Since British industrialization is a byproduct of British global political domination, there is no anti-empire voice within British elite class. Since USA industrialization is not a byproduct of global political domination by the USA, there is a traditional voice against empire within USA elite class. Moreover, while British killed or bribed or created social institutions for controlling foreign lands, USA people have the tradition to kill and seize lands rather than forming complex controlling arrangements.
This can be traced to Trump’s policies who on the one hand thinks US hegemony is making the US indebted and deindustrialized but on the other hand giving Pentagon generals more decision making power to operate wars in foreign lands without any care about collateral damages including how much innocent people getting killed. The US is definitely far less adept to control foreign lands compared to British. But for the same reason, US can be far more destructive to common people. Empire will take care of someone it wants to control.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.