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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

  • Frédéric Lordon: Syriza in a bind

    Frédéric Lordon, author of Willing Slaves of Capital follows his considered analysis of Syriza's "fork in the road", focussing on the difficult choices the new government face in power.



    We knew that the Syriza experience would provide an object lesson in politics, with all the fundamental bases of power and sovereignty being laid bare as the legal and financial niceties evaporated. And here we are: even sooner than we expected.

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  • Frédéric Lordon: Syriza faces a choice between capitulation and open sedition

    This Sunday, 25 January, Greeks will vote in parliamentary elections of potentially historic importance, with Alexis Tsipras’s Syriza coalition currently ahead in the opinion polls. But according to Frédéric Lordon, Germany’s grip on the situation and the Greek radical Left party’s own inconsistencies might condemn it to some painful acrobatics.


    For a long time Europe has been caught in a constitutional trap of its own making, with its neo-liberal treaties offering just two ways out of the current impasse: 1) the financial collapse of the European project, under the weight of its own internal contradictions; or 2) some political mishap coming along that will overthrow the whole system. The ECB’s announcement of the OMT programme [1] has avoided the first of these eventualities – for now – which leaves the second. And that’s the reason why the ‘European-institutional party’ has come to see democracy not as a normal state of political life but rather as a permanent source of threats – and it thinks itself justified in using any means necessary to stamp them out.

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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, Verso presents a reading list of economics titles which challenge the mainstream neoliberal consensus and offer powerful alternative models in contemporary economics.
     


    First up, Wolfgang Streeck's analysis of the 2008 financial crisis, Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism.
    Placing the crisis in the context of the neoliberal transformation of society that began in the 1970s, Streeck's focus is on the tensions that this has produced between states, voters and capitalist enterprises. Buying Time asks fundamental questions about the compatibility between democracy and contemporary forms of capitalism. 
    Read Streeck's excellent article on the end of capitalism at the New Left Review website.

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Other books by Giovanni Arrighi