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The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire

“The most important leftist book of the year, and probably the decade.”—Charles Mudede, The Stranger
The all-encompassing embrace of world capitalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century was generally attributed to the superiority of competitive markets. Globalization had appeared to be the natural outcome of this unstoppable process. But today, with global markets roiling and increasingly reliant on state intervention to stay afloat, it has become clear that markets and states aren't straightforwardly opposing forces.

In this groundbreaking work, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin demonstrate the intimate relationship between modern capitalism and the American state. The Making of Global Capitalism identifies the centrality of the social conflicts that occur within states rather than between them. These emerging fault lines hold out the possibility of new political movements that might transcend global markets.

Reviews

  • “Lucid and indispensable guides to the history and practice of American Empire.”
  • “A must read for everyone who is concerned about where the future of capitalism might lie.”
  • “The most important leftist book of the year, and probably the decade.”
  • “One of the most important books of the last decade ... nearly overwhelming in its breadth and detail ... It is a serious work of scholarship, and in my view, deserves at least three adjectives, which should be rarely used: definitive, classic and indispensable.”
  • “It’s the best left look at the US empire I’ve seen. The picture of the US as having the long-term dynamism and coherence of the global system ‘front of mind’, as the biz types say, makes far more sense than, say, the Chomskyism that pervades much of the left. They have few rivals and no betters in analyzing the relations between politics and economics, between globalization and American power, between theory and quotidian reality, and between crisis and political possibility.”
  • “Bringing new understanding to the dominant global role of the United States from World War I onward in business and economic policymaking, The Making of Global Capitalism advances an original perspective on the forces that have created our current epoch of neoliberal globalization. This is a major work in political economy—rigorously researched, compellingly written, and bursting with fresh insights on nearly every page.”
  • “Panitch and Gindin give us a history of global capitalism that brings together what has often been represented as unconnected. The authors help us see the active making of global capitalism mostly overlooked in mainstream explanation. A great book.”
  • “A meticulous history of how the American state, in conjunction with Wall Street, developed the institutional conditions that made global capitalism possible.”
  • “Left-leaning intellectuals examine the exceptional role of the United States in the development of global capitalism....[a] densely detailed work.”
  • “Sweeping, timely, and well-researched study of global capitalism ... compelling.”
  • “Deep, profound, and rich ... a truly epoch work that deserves careful, deliberate reading. Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin have so much to offer as we deliberate about the paths to follow for empowerment and meaningful change.”
  • “A real tonic both theoretically and, especially, politically. Panitch and Gindin have a deep understanding of historical materialism—their analysis is concrete and always anchored to advancing class struggle as an epistemic as well as a political project”
  • “A masterful century-long history of US corporate activity and state economic strategy. Insofar as capitalist states are where class interests are codified, their spicy reading of dry officialdom’s milquetoast narratives is absolutely vital to our knowledge about power. Most valuable are the ways these Canadians set out anti-capitalist principles and critiques of reformism, and defend socialist aspirations. In perhaps no other site in the English-speaking academic world are such committed, principled and generous leaders so warmly received by colleagues and students, and more importantly, by workers and communities in struggle. This means taking with utmost seriousness both their analysis and strategy, for even if they do not always jump the gap perfectly, no one I know has a better working model.”
  • “Readers should avail themselves of Professors Leo Panitch and his colleague Sam Gindin’s excellent researching and insightful analysis, as well as their readable description and explanation of how the money part of the US empire works or doesn’t. Serious activists will learn: these authors teach the how and why of the world’s capitalist economic system.”
  • “Organize[d] ... Focused ... a confrontation with financial institutions that must be re-created as instruments of economic coordination and social welfare.”
  • “There is little doubt that The Making of Global Capitalism will soon establish itself as a benchmark text on the history of global capitalism during the 20th century ... Panitch and Gindin survey global capitalism from its head office so to speak, in order to follow a train of decisions and actions which they contend demonstrate precisely how global capitalism is—and indeed can only be—the logical result of the organization and operation of a new form of American empire.”
  • “A landmark study of the construction and the evolution of the American capitalist empire. To my knowledge, it is the best in existence, wide-ranging in time as well as in space, perceptive, deeply informed, and sophisticatedly nuanced in its analyses.”

Blog

  • "Economic System" and "Theory of an Economic System"

    In An Economic Theory of the Feudal System, published in 1976 by Verso in a translation by Lawrence Garner, Witold Kula constructs a model of the Polish economy as it developed from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Introducing the book, Fernand Braudel wrote:

    Kula's demonstration proceeds step by step. It analyses the very dynamic of the feudal economy, and its functional possibilities for the seigneurial economy oriented towards the export trade; for the peasant plots which sought to produce a surplus for the local market; for the craft guilds with their difficulties in a relatively unurbanized society. Numerous Polish monographs-studies of production and prices-provide documentation for Kula's hypotheses. His model is then submitted to the test of the "long-term dynamic.” The problem for it is to ascertain “the constant or recurrent phenomena whose cumulative action determined structural transformations.” For each of the parties to the system, nearly always unconsciously, by merely adapting their historical calculations to changing economic or political conjunctures, to their particular situation, to the resistances of the others, eventually falsified the inter-play of the system and altered the model so much that in the end it disintegrated. Thus from 1820 to 1860 the whole system was overthrown in a Poland that remained “feudal,” yet where the landowners had become capitalist entrepreneurs whose behaviour would have been aberrant and impossible in 1780 or so.

    Kula demonstrates the possibility of sudden ruptures in an economic model, once its resilience has been tried too repeatedly by a number of contradictions working in the same direction — contradictions some of which may be internal or inherent to the system itself, and others external and sometimes unpredictable (for example, the halt of European purchases of Polish cereals during the Continental System). His analysis of these is unerringly subtle and logical.

    Kula's work is thus an example of a Marxist problematic mastered, assimilated and elevated to the level of a lucid and intelligent humanism, and a broad explanation of the evolution of the collective destiny of men. All the findings of Polish and non-Polish economic and historical research are gathered here in an effort of objective and patient reflection, of unusual intellectual honesty. The subject of this book — in effect, underdevelopment in modern history — is of such great interest that this novel approach to it, at once very general in its analysis of a phenomenon of long duration, and very concrete in its account of the daily economic calculations of peasant, lord, magnate or squire, is an important event for historians.

    In the excerpt below, Kula defends the concept of an "economic system" and the theorization therof. 


    "Grain Doesn't Pay." Detail from the obverse of a two-sided Polish painting illustrating the falling profitability of agriculture over the course of the eighteenth century. via Wikimedia Commons

    In the preceding chapters we have studied the mechanism governing the operation of the Polish economy during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. We, therefore, regard this work as contribution to the economic theory of the feudal system. Theoretical construction is not possible where there are no recurring phenomena, and traditional historical science denied on principle the existence of any such phenomena.

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  • The Ignored Lessons of the Financial Crisis

    "If I told you eight years ago that America would reverse the great recession, reboot the auto industry, and unleash the greatest stretch of job creation in our history ... you might have said our sights were set a little too high." Thus boasted the former US president Barack Obama in his farewell address. But is the financial crisis really behind us? Has the strategy implemented to save the banks not, on the contrary, created the conditions for the next conflagration? Cédric Durandwrites.

    An abbreviated version of this article appeared in the February 2017 Le Monde diplomatique. Translated by David Broder.

    Figure 1: GDP growth in the advanced economies

    Happy anniversary! On 2 April 2007, New Century Financial Corporation entered into liquidation. The collapse of this US real estate investment company — the second biggest provider of the now-infamous subprime mortgages — fired the starting gun on a financial crisis bigger than any the world had seen since 1929. Ten years on, capitalism is still yet to recover from this major shock. Growth is sluggish, under-employment endemic and the extreme monetary policies implement by central banks are reaching their limits.

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  • In the Long Run We Are All Dead: Verso's Economics Bookshelf



    “Before capitalism will go to hell, it will for the foreseeable future hang in limbo, dead or about to die from an overdose of itself but still very much around, as nobody will have the power to move its decaying body out of the way.” - Wolfgang Streeck

    After years of ill health, capitalism is now in a critical condition. Growth has given way to stagnation; inequality is leading to instability; and confidence in the money economy has all but evaporated.

    We present a reading list of titles that examine our current economic state, including Wolfgang Streeck's critically-acclaimed analysis, 
    How Will Capitalism End? and Geoff Mann's provocative new book on Keynesianism, political economy, and revolution.

    All these books are 40% off (with free shipping) until Feb 5th, midnight UTC. Click here to activate your discount.

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