This chapter examines post-war capitalism in the context of the end of empires and the Cold War. The focus is on the question of imperialism in the context of the universalization of the nation-state system, and what Rosenberg (1994; see also Stedman Jones 1970) has called the ‘empire of civil society’. The chapter argues that the post-1945 international order was very different from that which existed from 1882 to 1945, and that this was not only because of the Cold War, important though this was. As important, or maybe even more important, was the role of the United States in promoting a genuinely global capitalism. This was not one that transcended the nation-state, but rather one that was promoted through sovereign states, including in the colonial world. This coincided with a commitment to an open door policy, which championed the cause of the free movement of capital across national borders. In practice however, this commitment was compromised by both geo-political and economic realities — the existence of the Cold War and fear of communist expansion, the need for reconstruction in Europe, and the promotion of development, with some degree of protectionism, in the former colonies. At the same time, the restrictions on the movement of capital occurred in the context of a deepening internationalization, which was supported by the US state.
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