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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”

Blog

  • Etienne Balibar: Populism in the American Mirror

    This essay first appeared in Libération. Translated by David Broder.  

    The new and substantially updated edition of Balibar's now classic introductory text The Philosophy of Marx is currently 40%, alongside all the other books on our Marx primer reading list.


    via Flickr.

    The question that came to my American friends’ lips after Trump’s election was always the same: "Who’s next? Do you think that Le Pen will win the French elections?" They foresaw either a sort of domino effect or the onset of contagion, grounded in the devastation of the redistributive policies that have been torn apart by neoliberalism. They saw Brexit as a warning, a forerunner. The fall of Renzi as well as Hollande’s announcement that he will not stand for re-election echoed Clinton’s defeat. The question of whether Merkel would "hold on" in the face of the German far Right became a strategic variable.

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  • How Did We Get Into This Mess?

    A British politics reading list

    *** THE SALE HAS NOW FINISHED ***



    It's been a landmark year for this rainy island. Labour coup attempts, Brexit chaos, rising poverty, thriving right-wing politics, and yet! we've seen more outrage over a potential marmite shortage than the spike in racially motivated attacks.

    Beyond that, there's been an accelerated rise of the far-right throughout Europe (and, of course, the horror in the US), a refugee crisis so poorly managed that an even worse humanitarian crisis awaits us in 2017, and a global climate catastrophe that isn't going away but continues to be (largely) ignored. Capitalism is still doing it's bit for the rich, whilst failing everyone else, creating a wealth divide so large that it's hard to see where it will end.

    Our British politics reading list includes books that look at these very issues, as well as the historical contexts and political conditions that have allowed them to thrive in the last year. Until Jan 1: all our print books are 50% off (with free shipping worldwide and bundled ebooks), all our ebooks are 90% off.

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  • 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 new analysis, 
    How Will Capitalism End?

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Other books by Wolfgang Streeck