Into the Bramble Patch
With Biden pledging to restore the ‘rules-based order’, a redemptive history—describing the triumph of a peaceful new world order over its war-torn forerunner—has taken shape in the field of international legal theory. Tor Krever scrutinizes this narrative through the work of two recent propagators.
Dreams and Nightmares of the World’s Middle Classes
A survey of new shifts within the world’s vast ‘in-between’ classes and their contrasting trajectories in North and South. How should their theorization—or ideologization?—by development economists and financial journalists be read?
Real Utopia or Abstract Empiricism?
Where to locate real utopias, as conceptualized by Wright, in the historical context of capitalist development? A rejoinder to Burawoy, emphasizing production over marketization, Marx over Polanyi, and analyses of the present over visions of the future, as the key to this theoretical conundrum.
A Tale of Two Marxisms
The political-intellectual career of sociologist Erik Olin Wright (1947–2019), traced by a friend and collaborator. Amid the demise of actually existing socialism, a passage from class analysis to utopian imaginings, science to critique. Can Polanyi offer insights on how these strands might be joined?
Empire, Twenty Years On
If Empire was, for many, the signature text for the age of globalization, how do its theses fare now, in an era of rising nationalism and protracted crisis? In a landmark update, the authors examine how the twin spheres of power and (re)production have spun out of sync—symptoms of a system that, in Deleuze and Guattari’s words, works by breaking down.
The Bond of Shame
Is shame for one’s country, not love of it, the truer mark of belonging? Lineaments of a political emotion, at the intersection of biology and history, from Nestor’s invocation on the battlefield of Troy to Primo Levi’s remembrance of the Red Army. How might we imagine the boundaries of a shame-based community?
A New Form of Capitalism?
Does an expanding circuit of commodities whose value is indexed to their rarity and antiquity suggest that capitalism is secreting a novel ‘economy of enrichment’? Replying to Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre in NLR 98, Nancy Fraser argues that Marx’s Holy Trinity of profit, interest and rent remains key to a taxonomy of contemporary commodification.
Enrichment, Profit, Critique
Responding to Fraser, Boltanski and Esquerre extend their comparative analysis of capitalist valorization types, adding to their original trio—standard form, asset form, collection form—another type, the trend form, and arguing that today’s ‘integral capitalism’ encompasses all four.
The Return of the Repressed
Is the long reign of neo-liberalism coming to an end, struck by the untoward blows of Brexit, Trump and spread of populist insurgencies across Europe, as victims of its pattern of globalization start to find a voice? If so, with no radical alternative yet in sight, is a strange interregnum looming, where ‘everything is possible and nothing consequential’?
Conceptions of a revolution from the right in the era of European fascism, and an activist overcoming of conservative dejection at the fate of the West. Political and philosophical imaginings of an alternate capitalist modernity, capable of settling accounts with decadence and Bolshevism.
The Polish Case
Within the new topology of conservative regimes emerging from the Great Recession, that of Poland’s Law and Justice government has a distinctive character. Leszek Koczanowicz describes the fracturing of the neoliberal-nationalist formula that had persisted since the 1990s, the second term turned as anti-Western social critique against the first.
Contradictions of Capital and Care
Nancy Fraser tracks the reconfiguration of the relations of social reproduction under successive regimes of accumulation—‘separate spheres’, male breadwinner, dual-income household. Are the exactions of financialized capitalism now serving to undermine its lifeworld?
An Age of Progress?
Contradictions of social evolution: climate change, stagnant incomes and social exclusion entwined with rising per capita GDP and lengthening life-spans, challenges to racism and sexism, and a mounting capacity for the human species to take control of its destiny.
The Economic Life of Things
Collection and asset—two ideal-typical logics through which value and price are established and objects ‘enriched’. From luxury goods to heritage villages and the mimetic effects of speculation; as industrial production is transferred to East Asia, the emergence of a new kind of capitalist economy.
Capitalisms After Communism
A leading Hungarian sociologist revises Weber’s notion of prebendal and patrimonial regimes to classify the new capitalist orders of the former Second World. Are governments from Budapest to Beijing now converging on the same models of politicized economy?
The Double Project of Modernity
Ambivalences of national statehood in divided Korea. Is a ‘normal’ modern state desirable or achievable, or is modernity here necessarily a project of both adaptation and overcoming? And might the Korean case offer insights into the problematic of modernity elsewhere?
Marx’s Lost Theory
In a landmark re-reading of Class Struggles in France and The Eighteenth Brumaire, Mike Davis draws out the theoretical propositions on class and nation, world-market and inter-state rivalry, that underpin the seminal political writings. Repudiation of politics as discourse pur, and revaluation of Marx’s ‘middle-level concepts’ for the mediated expression of complex social interests.
Socialize the Data Centres!
The leading iconoclast of Internet euphoria recounts his path from schooling in Belarus through training in Bulgaria to NGO work in Central Europe and fame as author of The Net Delusion in the United States. A radicalized view of the transformations required in the information infrastructures of the present for any egalitarian future.
The Openness Paradigm
Hailed by management gurus as a new strategy for hard-pressed companies in the advanced economies, the ‘open business model’ aims to transform post-Fordism’s flexibilized forms of production—with, Nancy Ettlinger argues, bleak prospects for global labour.
Populism and the New Oligarchy
Tracking the terms ‘populism’ and ‘the people’ from the 19th century, Marco D’Eramo offers a striking new interpretation of their current applications—the first levelled indiscriminately at any political force that steps outside the bounds of convention, the second banished from the scene.
Class in the 21st Century
From São Paulo to Beijing, a rising middle class has been hailed by liberal commentators as a bulwark for consumption and democracy in the decades ahead. Taking stock of these claims, Göran Therborn offers a magisterial overview of the global class landscape and the still prodigious numerical weight of manual workers within it.
The Critical Net Critic
Advances in information technology have generated both delirious boosterism and gloomy prognoses of computer-assisted decline. Rob Lucas engages with the sceptical current exemplified by Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows, tracing its conceptual underpinnings and identifying its lacunae—political, economic, historical.
Citizens as Customers
Post-Fordist capitalism has transformed consumers’ expectations, offering limitless diversification of commodities. Wolfgang Streeck explores the implications for a public sphere which cannot hope to match the cornucopia of the market. The consumption of politics by the politics of consumption?
Academicians of Lagado?
Vast claims have been made for the application of Darwinian concepts—purged of biological determinism—to the study of societies. Kenta Tsuda offers a penetrating and original critique of selection theory, finding a paradigm with limited explanatory value and shaky conceptual foundations.
The Political Economy of Unhappiness
As the bill for mental health problems—iconically, depression—climbs, economists seek to quantify the efficiency costs of unhappiness. In such quests, capitalism is reverting to classical psychologies of well-being, the better to neutralize the meaning of the new forms of illness—and its authorship of them.