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The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power and the Origins of Our Times

A comprehensive analysis of the development of world capitalism over seven hundred years.
The Long Twentieth Century traces the relationship between capital accumulation and state formation over a 700-year period. Arrighi argues that capitalism has unfolded as a succession of “long centuries,” each of which produced a new world power that secured control over an expanding world-economic space. Examining the changing fortunes of Florentine, Venetian, Genoese, Dutch, English and finally American capitalism, Arrighi concludes with an examination of the forces that have shaped and are now poised to undermine America’s world dominance. A masterpiece of historical sociology, The Long Twentieth Century rivals in scope and ambition contemporary classics by Perry Anderson, Charles Tilly and Michael Mann.

Reviews

  • “A vivid, fact-filled expose of the cyclical monetary forces that surge through human society.”
  • The Long Twentieth Century has the grandeur of a sprawling epic and the schematic grace of a Richard Neutra blueprint... It is the single most useful text on offer for anyone who wants to narrate the story of world capitalism—from its nascent form on the rim of the Mediterranean to the current reach of the United States’ empire, and beyond.”

Blog

  • EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT - Chapter One of Utopia or Bust by Benjamin Kunkel



    All this week we will be bringing you an exclusive serialisation of the opening chapter of Benjamin Kunkel's Utopia or Bust. In the chapter entitled 'David Harvey: Crisis Theory', Kunkel begins his examination of the world of Marxist thought and the basis of Western society today with an exploration of Harvey's body of work and contribution to post-Marxian theory.


    The deepest economic crisis in eighty years prompted a shallow revival of Marxism. During the panicky period between the failure of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the official end of the American recession in the summer of 2009, several mainstream journals, displaying a less than sincere mixture of broadmindedness and chagrin, hailed Marx as a neglected seer of capitalist crisis. The trend-spotting Foreign Policy led the way, with a cover story on Marx, for its Next Big Thing issue, enticing readers with a promise of the star treatment: “Lights. Camera. Action. Das Kapital. Now.”

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  • Post-crash economics: a reading list

    Neoliberal economics isn't working and students are demanding more from their course reading than the 8th edition of Macroeconomics can provide. Following the news that Economics students in Manchester have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society and Aditya Chakrabortty's excoriating and controversial commentary on the state of contemporary economics, published in the Guardian this week, Verso presents a reading list of economics titles which challenge the mainstream neoliberal consensus and offer powerful alternative models in contemporary economics.
     


    First on our list, and referenced by Chakrabortty, Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: How Neoliberalism Survived the Financial Meltdown by Philip Mirowski
    Following the financial crisis, how have banks and the financial services industry manage to stay on top in the political stakes; indeed, how has their recovering led to an upturn in their fortunes? Philip Mirowski explores how financial capitalism has turned the crisis to their advantage, leveraging state power to prop up free market capitalism.

    Another new release from Verso is Costas Lapavitsas' book on financialisation, Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All. Described as "a masterpiece on the financialized capitalism of our age", the book looks at the rise of financial profit as a key aspect of the economy, and the role of financialized capitalism in the current economic crisis.

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  • Los Angeles Review of Books challenges the legitimacy of economic soothsayers

    “Autumn of the Empire” is the title to Joshua Clover’s analysis of the current economic crisis, approached within the context of four books reviewed in the Los Angeles Review of Books. Among the titles that Clover discusses are Robert Brenner’s The Economics of Global Turbulence and two books by the late Giovanni Arrighi, The Long Twentieth Century and Adam Smith in Beijing.

    All of the books were first published before the economic bubble burst—a significant detail because like many before him, Clover disputes the retrospective argument that the crisis was unforeseen. More importantly:

    The question of why so many danger cries went unheeded may seem to invite an inquiry into ideological blindness. On a different conceptual plane, however, it may be more interesting to ask instead: What counts as a prediction? Or, perhaps, the practical corollary: Who counts as an economist?

    After all, other thinkers—other sorts of thinkers, concerned with broader understandings than the tightly focused technicians who dominate contemporary debates—grasped the situation at a considerable distance and with remarkable acuity. They mostly don’t appear in surveys of crisis callers, even as their predictions may have the most significant things to tell us about how best to peer from our current vantage, toward the horizon.

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Other books by Giovanni Arrighi