The Long Twentieth Century is a volume of great historical sweep and originality. I don’t think my review could have been clearer in recognizing the many strengths of Giovanni Arrighi’s work. However, I did also find that much of the book’s core theoretical framework was in disarray. This need not be a critical problem in a work whose primary contribution is historical synthesis, but it is a major problem in my view in The Long Twentieth Century, since at least part of Arrighi’s stated ambition was to bring much greater analytic cohesion to Braudel’s similarly original but even more sprawling works.
There is no point in trading citations with Arrighi to support the contentions of my review. Interested readers can of course consult the review, but more importantly read The Long Twentieth Century and judge for themselves. However, it appears that my review has perhaps encouraged Arrighi to rethink his analytic framework in a way that I find to be a significant improvement over the presentation in the book itself. Most importantly, he has chosen not to defend his revision of Marx’s M→C→M' circuit that I found so unsatisfactory, this being the framework which is summarized in the crucial Figure 10 of the book, ‘Long Centuries and Systemic Cycles of Accumulation’ (p. 364). The approach and the figure he replaces it with in his reply—derived from Figure 16 in the book—are in the spirit of my own suggestion as to how he could have more effectively organized the book’s analysis. As such, perhaps, our debate in these pages may have yielded some light as well as heat.