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New Left Review 35, September-October 2005

The end of US hegemony has been announced more often even than that of neoliberalism. Yet American power persists, with little resistance so far from rival centres of accumulation. Rationales and indices of the continuing role of the United States as overlord of world capital.



As if taking too literally the maxim that Minerva’s owl flies at twilight, it seems that the imperial nature of the American state is belatedly being acknowledged today only to announce its imminent demise—the ‘unravelling’ of us hegemony. [1] See Giovanni Arrighi, ‘Hegemony Unravelling—i’, nlr 32, March–April 2005 and ‘Hegemony Unravelling—ii’, nlr 33, May–June 2005. See also David Harvey, The New Imperialism, Oxford 2003. In these accounts, the military occupation of Iraq is often seen as a desperate attempt to re-impose a faltering us leadership by force of arms. What these analyses tend to ignore is the unique scope and scale of the us imperialist state, and the specific role it has played in the making of the world economy in the postwar period. An evaluation of the us’s continuing capacity to shape global capitalism in the 21st century therefore requires some theorization of the imperialist state itself. [2] This essay builds on our previous work, both in these pages (‘The New Imperial State’, nlr 2, March–April 2000) and in the Socialist Register: see ‘Global Capitalism and American Empire’ in The New Imperial Challenge: Socialist Register 2004; and ‘Finance and American Empire’ in The Empire Reloaded: Socialist Register 2005.

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Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, ‘Superintending Global Capital’, NLR 35: £3

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