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New Left Review 22, July-August 2003


A world-systems view of the prospects for the American imperium, after the occupation of Iraq. The confidence of the Republican Administration, the misgivings of its allies and the uncertainties of a transition to a new historical order.

IMMANUEL WALLERSTEIN

ENTERING GLOBAL ANARCHY

The Bush administration has the wind in its sails with the conquest of Iraq. It thinks it can do what it wants and will probably act on this belief for the foreseeable future. It is understandable that Pentagon hawks, who have long preached that militarism would pay off, now feel they have clear proof for their thesis. It is equally natural that opponents of American imperialism should feel demoralized by the apparent us success. I will argue that both assessments miss the mark and fail to grasp what is really happening in the geopolitical arena. In what follows I will construct my analysis around three periods: the postwar apogee of us hegemony, from 1945 to 1967–73; the late summer glow, stretching from 1967–73 until 2001; and the stage that stretches ahead of us, from 2001 until 2025 or 2050: one of anarchy which the us cannot control. I shall distinguish three axes within each period: the internal competitive struggles of the major loci of accumulation of the capitalist world-economy; the ‘North–South’ struggle; and the battle to determine the future world-system, between two groups that I shall metaphorically label the camps of Davos and of Porto Alegre.

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Immanuel Wallerstein, ‘Entering Global Anarchy’, NLR 22: £3
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