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New Left Review 33, May-June 2005

In the conclusion to his major two-part essay on the new US imperialism, Giovanni Arrighi situates the contradictions of the current American ‘spatial fix’ for the problems of overaccumulation in the context of a longue durée of systemic cycles. Have Washington’s attempts to secure its world role through the invasion of Iraq instead hastened the rise of China?



In the first part of this essay, I argued that the recent resurgence of the concepts of ‘empire’ and ‘imperialism’ is above all a consequence of the Bush Administration’s embrace of a new imperialist programme in the wake of 9/11—that of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century. [1] Arrighi, ‘Hegemony Unravelling’, Part 1, nlr 32, March–April 2005. The paper sought to investigate the social, economic and political circumstances which prompted the adoption of that policy, and in particular its relation to the turbulence of the global economy since the 1970s. In dealing with these questions, I began by examining David Harvey’s interpretation of the relationship between imperialism and capitalist development in The New Imperialism, focusing specifically on Harvey’s concepts of ‘spatial fix’ and ‘accumulation by dispossession’ as means to analyse the Bush Administration’s present course. [2] David Harvey, The New Imperialism, Oxford 2003. I argued that, far from laying the foundations for a second ‘American Century’, the occupation of Iraq has jeopardized the credibility of us military might; it has further undermined the centrality of the United States and the dollar in the global political economy; and it has strengthened the tendency towards the emergence of China as an alternative to us leadership in the East Asian region and beyond. It would have been hard to imagine a more rapid and complete failure of the neo-conservative imperial project. In all likelihood, the neo-conservative bid for global supremacy will go down in history as one of the several ‘bubbles’ that punctuated the terminal crisis of us hegemony. [3] George Soros characterized the neo-conservative bid for global supremacy as a ‘bubble’ well before its unravelling became evident. Soros, The Bubble of American Supremacy: Correcting the Misuse of American Power, New York 2004.

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Giovanni Arrighi, ‘Hegemony Unravelling-2’, NLR 33: £3

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