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New Left Review I/110, July-August 1978

Michel Aglietta

Phases of US Capitalist Expansion

The characteristic mode of existence of developed capitalism is large-scale industry with its mass production. [*] This extract is taken from Michel Aglietta, Régulation et crises du capitalisme, Paris 1976 (English translation forthcoming nlb, 1979). Yet capitalist relations of production do not just arise from thin air. They derive historically from the formation of the wage-earning class by the gradual dissolution or destruction of previous modes of production. This movement, moreover, can never be the exclusive product of an economic logic. It requires political relations adequate to the domination of the industrial bourgeoisie, and decisively involves the role of the State. The conditions under which State power is exercised may be more or less favourable to the implantation of capitalist relations of production on the terrain of the commodity economy. The rhythm and forms of penetration of these capitalist relations of production form the specific infrastructure of a particular social formation. It is this social infrastructure that enables us to grasp the differences in the development of the productive forces between different social formations. And from this point of view, the United States displays major originality.

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Michel Aglietta, ‘Phases of US Capitalist Expansion’, NLR I/110: £3

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