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How Will Capitalism End?: Essays on a Failing System

The provocative political thinker asks if it will be with a bang or a whimper
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.

In How Will Capitalism End?, the acclaimed analyst of contemporary politics and economics Wolfgang Streeck argues that the world is about to change. The marriage between democracy and capitalism, ill-suited partners brought together in the shadow of World War Two, is coming to an end. The regulatory institutions that once restrained the financial sector’s excesses have collapsed and, after the final victory of capitalism at the end of the Cold War, there is no political agency capable of rolling back the liberalization of the markets.

Ours has become a world defined by declining growth, oligarchic rule, a shrinking public sphere, institutional corruption and international anarchy, and no cure to these ills is at hand.

Reviews

  • “Streeck’s title question—though never answered—opens a window onto the conflict between capitalism and democracy in the neoliberal era. That such a conflict exists is no surprise in Brazil, and still hidden to many in the United States, but a rude and inescapable shock to those who grew up with the comfortable illusions and utopian hopes of post-war Europe.”
  • “Neoliberalism continues to delimit political choice across the globe yet it is clear that the doctrine is in severe crisis. In Wolfgang Streeck’s powerful new book How Will Capitalism End? Streeck demonstrates that the maladies afflicting the world—from secular stagnation to rising violent instability—herald not just the decline of neoliberalism, but what may prove to be the terminal phase of global capitalism.”
  • “At the heart our era’s deepening crisis there lies a touching faith that capitalism, free markets and democracy go hand in hand. Wolfgang Streeck’s new book deconstructs this myth, exposing the deeply illiberal, irrational, anti-humanist tendencies of contemporary capitalism.”
  • “An important and stimulating book. It is especially interesting in the light of fashionable preoccupations with secular stagnation, the march of robots and the lamentable performance of most leading economies since the onset of the financial crisis.”
  • “The most interesting person on the most urgent subject of our times”
  • “Streeck writes devastatingly and cogently … How Will Capitalism End? provides not so much a … forecast as a warning.”
  • “As the economic gloom deepens to the pitch black night of geopolitical crisis, in the economics departments of the world there can still be heard the confident chuckle: "but capitalism always survives". Wolfgang Streeck's book How Will Capitalism End? An extended riff on the possibility of the mainstream economists being wrong. Streeck synthesises the various strands of left crisis theory into a convincing proposal”
  • “Democratic capitalism is in bad shape. The crisis of 2007-09 and subsequent election of Donald Trump demonstrate that. In this book, German sociologist Streeck argues that capitalism is doomed, as many have before. But he does not believe it will be replaced by something better. Instead a new Dark Ages lies ahead.”
  • “This collection will be at the centre of social research for years to come”
  • How Will Capitalism End? offers a powerful prognosis that predicts that the system will suffer a lingering death rather than go out with a bang...there are so many startling formulations of great analytic power in this book that it merits wide circulation in these troubled times.”
  • “The most interesting person around today on the subject of the relationship between democracy and capitalism”
  • “Streeck has become one of Europe's most sophisticated and pessimistic left-wing Euroskeptics...[his] criticism of the eurozone is powerful.”

Blog

  • [Video:] David Harvey and Evgeny Morozov on Trump, neoliberalism, infrastructure, and "the sharing economy"



    On November 14, 2016 — as part of the Barcelona Initiative for Technological Sovereignty (BITS) — David Harvey sat down with Evgeny Morozov to discuss Trump's election and what it means for neoliberalism and infrastructure; as well as technologies of value extraction in contemporary cities.

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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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  • The Landing: Fascists without Fascism

    This post first appeared at Research & Destroy.



    We can imagine a person slowly becoming aware that he is the subject of catastrophe. The form of consciousness might be likened to someone peering out the window of a plane. They have been aboard for a long time, years, decades. From cruising altitude the landscape below scrolls past evenly, somewhat abstracted. The stabilizing mechanisms of eye and brain smooth the scene. Perhaps they are somewhere above the upper midwest. Their knowledge of the miseries that have seized flyover country hovers at the periphery of a becalmed boredom. Steady hum of the jet engines, sense of stillness. Borne by prevailing winds the first balloonists detected no wind whatsoever. So this flight. Though the passengers will never travel faster than this they scarcely feel any motion at all.

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