Firstclass-f_medium
February 12, 2020
First Class Passengers on a Sinking Ship
Verso Books
February 12, 2020
7.00pm - 9.00pm
Verso Books
20 Jay Street Suite 1010
Brooklyn, NY 11201 United States
Richard Lachmann and Vivek Chibber in Conversation

The extent and irreversibility of US decline is becoming ever more obvious as America loses war after war and as one industry after another loses its technological edge. Lachmann explains why the United States will not be able to sustain its global dominance. He contrasts America’s relatively brief period of hegemony with the Netherlands’ similarly short primacy and Britain’s far longer era of leadership.

Decline in all those cases was not inevitable and did not respond to global capitalist cycles. Rather, decline is the product of elites’ success in grabbing control of resources and governmental powers. Not only are ordinary people harmed, but also capitalists become increasingly unable to coordinate their interests and adopt policies and make investments necessary to counter economic and geopolitical competitors elsewhere in the world.

Conflicts among elites and challenges by non-elites determine the timing and mould the contours of decline. Lachmann traces the transformation of US politics from an era of elite consensus to present-day paralysis combined with neoliberal plunder, explains the paradox of an American military with an unprecedented technological edge unable to subdue even the weakest enemies, and the consequences of finance’s cannibalisation of the US economy.



Richard Lachmann is a Professor at the University of Albany-SUNY and the author of Capitalists in Spite of Themselves: Elite Conflict and Economic Transitions in Early Modern Europe, States and Power and What Is Historical Sociology?

Vivek Chibber is Professor of Sociology at New York University and the author of Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital and Locked in Place: State-Building and Late Industrialization in India, which won the Barrington Moore, Jr. Prize. He has contributed to, among others, the Socialist Register, American Journal of Sociology, Boston Review and New Left Review.

Co-sponsored by Catalyst.