This can be traced back to the Cold War period, where America played a major role in expanding capitalism over communism. Together with some European allies from Eastern Europe, America strived to oppress communism, which had spread across Western Europe. The Cold War collapsed with capitalism taking victory over communism. The collapse of the Soviet Union was the indication that communism had given way to capitalism. To date, capitalism is present in the United States as well as many European nations. However, the extent and nature of capitalism in the United States is quite different from capitalism in Western Europe.
American capitalism is associated with democratic governance, free trade, private ownership, and individualism. The United States has a democratic political system where the country’s president and the government are elected on a regular basis. The elections are conducted freely and democratically. This democratic culture evolved from the enlightenment period where the traditional role of political leaders and the state were challenged. Thomas Jefferson, the founding father of America had a profound influence on separating religion from state. According to Jefferson, the church had used religion to dominate and influence people and the government for selfish purposes (Connolly 3).
This is a typical example of how intellectualism influenced the development of American economic and political culture. By urging Americans to exercise greater autonomy in understanding religion, Jefferson was influencing the thinking and the Americans in terms of taking a greater role in political and economic arenas. The individualism concept that pervades the United States can be linked to such intellectualism. In the same regard, the role of the state was well-defined. In Western Europe, the church had a major influence on the state.
The church and the state worked closely together. For example, in Rome, the leaders of the church also occupied political positions and exercised political powers. However, this was later changed the state became a separate entity from the church. Most governments and empires in Western Europe collapsed and paved the way to new political and government systems. These changes were influenced by the enlightenment, which occurred in the eighteenth century. It is through the insights and discourses of key philosophers and intellectuals that the traditional political and economic cultures were challenged leading to major revolutions such as the French Revolution in Western Europe and American Revolution in the United States (Riemer and Douglas 127).
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