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In A People's History of the United States, what are the primary motives the explain...

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turtles316 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 26, 2012 at 1:15 PM via web

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In A People's History of the United States, what are the primary motives the explain how the propertied ruling elite were able to shape the direction of American economic policies?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 26, 2012 at 6:43 PM (Answer #1)

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Zinn continues the cadence established in the earlier chapters of the narrative.  It is evident that as industrialization began to take hold of the nation, government was used as a means to continue the mentality of capitalism.  Its primary motivation was to be used as a means of keeping the entrenched class system embedded in American society.  Zinn makes the argument that the expanding capitalist notions that began to take root in America in the time period of Andrew Jackson were also the same elements that helped to ensure that there was little in way of dissent and public protest regarding them.  For Zinn, Jackson's assertion of "Jacksonian Democracy" did not align with his embrace of the direction of American economic policies.  Zinn argues that Jackson tried to coopt the lower classes to ensure their own political allegiances, and not to actually bring more people out of class- based suffering.  Zinn brings this out in the mere title of "The Other Civil War," referring to the class struggle that leaders meant to keep in place as a way to solidify the stratification that capitalism requires in order to advance and develop.  Zinn's explanation of the Anti- Renter movement as well as how institutional inertia towards social and economic change began to emerge in order to sustain capital growth are both elements that help to bring out the primary motivation of the political leadership at the time.

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