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New Left Review I/136, November-December 1982


Michel Aglietta

World Capitalism in the Eighties

The main currents of thought on world economic problems can be distinguished from one another, amongst other things, by the precise importance they attach to the national dimension. For neo-classicists, as well as for supporters of the ‘globalist’ ideology propagated by the multinationals and transmitted by the communications media, there is a one-way process of the unification of economic relations. The absolute primacy accorded to the private subject over all forms of collective organization encourages a view of the nation as a mere historical remnant. Spatial heterogeneity is conceived as exogenous to the impulse towards the realization of a general market equilibrium: i.e., as an initial disposition of resources not chosen by economic subjects or as an obstacle to trade in the factors or products of production. Indeed, the neo-classical theory of international relations is nothing other than a theory of the tendential dissolution of this spatial heterogeneity and its replacement by the homogeneous space of ‘pure’ market relations on a world scale.

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