This review of Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin's The Making of Global Capitalism and David M. Kotz's The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism (Harvard University Press, 2015) first appeared in the December 2015 issue of Perspectives on Politics.
The contemporary international economic order has many characteristics whose combination raises important analytical questions. The level of economic integration is extremely high — almost certainly higher even than in the first era of “globalization,” from the 1870s to 1914. The extraordinary integration of global markets for goods and capital coexists with a level of government involvement in national economies that is unprecedented in the modern era. The system was largely constructed along lines laid out by the United States in the aftermath of World War II — the first time an international economic order was put into place by design. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has been the unchallenged leader of the world economy. However, there is an extraordinary degree of cooperation on economic matters among leading states, and supranational institutions play a far greater role in managing international economic affairs than at any time in history.
In the second part of his 1991 essay on the decline of the Eastern Bloc Robert Brenner provides a prescient analysis of the likely outcome of the political and economic crisis in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. He correctly predicts that the future for the region would resemble less the post-war experience of Western Europe and would more closely follow the trajectory of the nations of the Global South. The essay originally appeared in the March/April 1991 issue of Against the Current and is reproduced here for the first time. Read the first part of this essay on the nature of exploitation and accumulation in the Soviet and eastern bloc bureaucratic systems and the beginnings of its crisis.
Brenner is the author of many important interventions in world economics including: The Boom and the Bubble, Merchants and Revolution, and The Economics of Global Turbulence.
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In 1991 Robert Brenner, Director of the Center for Social Theory and Comparative History at UCLA, authored a two-part essay on the decline and collapse of the Soviet and Eastern European economic systems. The article appeared in the March/April 1991 issue of Against the Current and is reproduced here for the first time. Brenner is the author of many vital books on global economics including: The Boom and the Bubble, Merchants and Revolution, and The Economics of Global Turbulence.
In the first part of the article Brenner describes the nature of the Eastern bloc's economic system, the failure of the market reforms of the 1970s, the exacerbation of the Eastern bloc's productivity crisis via the arms race with the United States, and the difficulties of adapting a command economy to the production of consumer goods.