This letter was first published in Le Monde. Translated by David Broder.
(via Wikimedia Commons)
As a rule, crises open up the terrain of the possible, and the crisis that began in 2007 with the collapse of the subprime market is no exception. The political forces that upheld the old world are now decomposing — first among them social democracy, which has since 2012 entered a new phase in its long process of accommodation to the existing order. As against these forces, the National Front has diverted part of the anger in society to its own advantage. It has adopted the pretense of an anti-systemic stance, even though it challenges nothing about this system, and least of all the law of the market.
Such is the context in which Nuit Debout was born — a movement that now marks the first month of its existence. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall the opposition to neoliberalism has taken various different forms: the “Bolivarian” governments in Latin America in the 2000s, the “Arab Spring,” Occupy Wall Street, the Spanish indignados, Syriza in Greece, the Corbyn and Sanders campaigns in Britain and the USA…. Future historians delving into our era will doubtless say that it was particularly rich in social and political movements.
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.