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New Left Review I/138, March-April 1983

Makoto Itoh

‘The World Economic Crisis’

As the unemployment figures continue to increase implacably upwards, it is sobering to reflect that the underlying structural crisis of the world capitalist system is now in its tenth year. The recent article by Michel Aglietta (‘World Capitalism in the Eighties’) in nlr136 (November–December 1982) is undoubtedly a major contribution to a Marxist understanding of why chronic stagnation has dominated the world economy since the end of 1973. Especially stimulating is Aglietta’s emphasis on the dynamics of the international division of labour between the main capitalist economies, and the international monetary relationships and contradictions to which this gives rise. Without observing the concrete motion of the relations among nations each having a specific insertion in the international economy, the global structure of the world economic crisis is not comprehensible. Thus Aglietta is correct to adopt a comparative and historical mode of analysis that rejects abstractions pitched at the level of ‘capital logic’ or the neo-classist fantasy of a homogeneous international economic order.

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