It is no easy task to define the concept of imperialism. The same term is customarily used to designate diverse, and in certain respects antithetical, concepts. Indeed, theoretical controversy is often based on nothing more than a failure to grasp what is the object of reference.
The changing nature of capital markets since Rosa Luxemburg wrote The Accumulation of Capital begs for a reexamination of the original mechanisms she described.
Ellen Meiksins Wood (1942-2016) was a leading political theorist and one of the world's most influential historians. Her wide-ranging and original work, covering topics which range from examinations of Athenian democracy to contemporary American imperialism, has, alongside Robert Brenner, inaugurated the 'Political Marxist' approach to history. Political Marxism is founded upon a critique of the teleology and formalism of many forms of Marxism in an attempt at rehistoricising and repoliticising the Marxist project. The influence of Ellen's distinctive work can be seen across the social sciences and has influenced generations of scholars.
To celebrate her work, we are making available one of her most influential essays, "The Separation of the Economic and the Political in Capitalism", originally published in NLR 1/127 (1981).
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.
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.