Containers: The Physical Foundation of Modern Capitalism

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Ninety percent of goods in global trade are carried by the ocean shipping industry each year.
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In his push to increase the American presence in Vietnam, President Lyndon Johnson turned to a relatively new way of shipping: Container ships. The first was successfully tested in 1956, and ever since, the mass shipping of goods has allowed the U.S. government to sustain its presence in places far beyond its traditional reach.

But containers also unleashed a rapid expansion in global trade, and set the stage for the modern capitalist system that we're living with today.

A new podcast called "Containers" examines this history, from the Port of Oakland's Outer Harbor, where goods flowed through on their way to South Vietnam in the past, to today, when about 90 percent of every good you own has passed through a cargo ship.

Alexis Madrigal is editor-at-large at Fusion, and creator of the eight-part podcast. Madrigal says that those metal containers that we hardly interact with are the embodiment of modern capitalism, and have changed everything — from how we trade, to where we live.