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And the rights of women at work to paid maternity leave, flexible working hours, and available child care—rights increasingly 30 America in the Shadow of Empires available across the rest of the Western world—still remain to be won in most states in contemporary America. Labor as a voice is weak in industry. Workers as a political force are perpetually outspent by the lobbyists for business, and a post-Reagan culture privileging individualism over collectivism now erodes the legitimacy of even the most modest attempts to avert the worst excesses of unregulated capitalism.

In an important essay to which we will return, George Steinmetz lists the territorial ones as “(1) classical land-based empires; (2) expansionist nation-states such as early modern and modern-century France . . ” Likewise, nonterritorial empires, which involve the control of space rather than the annexation of territory or sovereignty, also took distinct forms in the early modern and modern periods. ”61 That wild confusion arises because empires come in different times and types: ancient and modern, land- or sea-based, global or regional, formal and informal, or political or economic.

The linkage of pay and productivity fuelled the great expansion of American middle-class living standards in the 1950s and 1960s. It was a link that was then broken in the Reagan The Nature of Our Contemporary Condition 27 and post-Reagan years, so that American workers even in core manufacturing industries maintained a rising standard of living after 1980 (if they maintained it at all) only by combining longer working hours and more family members going out to paid work with rising levels of personal consumer debt.

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