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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?
A Planetary Pandemic
This number of nlr opens with a set of texts on the covid-19 crisis. Coursing round the world, the virus plays the role of an etching acid that reveals the lineaments—political, economic, social, cultural—of the uneven landscape beneath. Less lethal than such zoonotic forerunners as . . . read more
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.
Situationism à L’envers?
Building on the extended review by Cédric Durand in NLR 116/117, Perry Anderson seeks clues to the politics and method behind Adam Tooze’s Crashed in the author’s wider oeuvre. From the Peace of 1919 to the dollar swap-lines of 2008, the oft-heralded rise of a beneficent American hegemon.
End of the Neoliberal Era?
Prognosis for the US economy, after a decade of unprecedented monetary stimulus. Does the distempered character of the recovery—soaring profits, feverish asset prices, anaemic wage growth—signal a structural crisis in the existing regime of capitalist accumulation, and transition to a new institutional framework?
The New Neoliberalism
If the ruling economic paradigm remains traceable to Mont Pèlerin, how to distinguish the present from the moment that brought Thatcher and Reagan to power? A periodization of neoliberalism, from anti-socialist insurgency, through centre-left stewardship, to the inchoate ideologies of the post-crash era.
Robert Gordon’s panoramic Rise and Fall of American Growth foregrounds exogenous explanations for the fall-off in us economic dynamism since the seventies. Challenging his account, Michel Aglietta explores the role financial rents and shareholder agendas have played in sapping growth—and prospects for a new era of eco-tech innovations.
Europe’s Other Periphery
The fate of the East European economies in the transition from COMECON to EU. From post-communist slump to the politics of austerity, by way of industrial decline, wage collapses, external debt and buy-outs. The emergence of new dependencies, financial and industrial.
$1.90 a Day: What Does It Say?
The World Bank claims global poverty will soon fall below 10 per cent, but do its figures deserve their international legitimacy? Sanjay Reddy and Rahul Lahoti probe the assumptions and methodologies on which the Bank’s assertions are based, and suggest an alternative.
What can quantitative linguistic analysis reveal about global institutions? From Bretton Woods to the present, the language of World Bank reports has undergone telling modulations. Moretti and Pestre track the decline of concrete referents and active verbs, the triumph of acronyms over nation-states—and irresistible rise of ‘governance’.
How Will Capitalism End?
Its challengers apparently vanquished, the main threat to capitalism may now come from disorders that lurk within the system itself. Wolfgang Streeck diagnoses its crisis symptoms, from persistent stagnation to global anarchy, and asks what lies in store as they multiply.
Guestworkers: A Taxonomy
A typology of Gastarbeiter programmes and their function in capitalist labour regimes, from Wilhelmine Prussia to the Gulf monarchies. Side effects of attempts to import a disposable reserve army of labour, and the tensions they provoke between capital accumulation and state legitimacy.
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.
A New Global Depression?
Interview with the author of The Dollar Crisis, one of the few analyses to predict the 2008 financial meltdown. Richard Duncan tracks its causes to the credit explosion unleashed by the fiat-dollar system, in toxic symbiosis with the global wage deflation caused by manufacturing’s shift to the East.
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?
The European Vortex
Global economic turmoil has exposed the structural flaws in the single currency. Amid deepening divergences between industrial north and debt-laden south, Michel Aglietta assesses the Eurozone’s chances of recovery, and the impact of its continued travails on the world economy.
Another Turn Of The Screw?
Beneath the roiling surface of the Euro-crisis, a further chapter of the EU integration project is underway. Susan Watkins on the institutional machinery Berlin is imposing across the Union, and the political stakes—and hypocrisies—laid bare by the struggle.
Atlantic economies remain mired in unemployment and stagnation three years on from 2008. Diagnosing the underlying causes of the crisis as global over-capacity, deficient demand and anarchic credit creation, Robin Blackburn explores proposals for a genuine exit from it to the left.
America’s Head Servant?
Against predictions that China will soon replace the US as the world’s dominant economic power, Hung Ho-fung argues that the PRC’s export-oriented growth and vast dollar reserves have trapped it in a subordinate role—to which much of its elite remains committed.
Speculations on the Stationary State
Will the present crisis issue in a new phase of accumulation, or a growthless ‘stationary state’? Gopal Balakrishnan charts epochal trends in world capitalism, and their imbrication with the debt-fuelled imbalances of the long downturn.
Brecht’s Relevance: Highs and Lows
In what ways does Brecht’s drama—and the world-transforming impulse behind his strategies of defamiliarization—speak to times and places other than his own? Ups and downs of his resonance in Brazil and beyond, shadowing the movements of history’s leading edge.
Feminism, Capitalism and the Cunning of History
Do feminism and neoliberalism share a secret affinity? Nancy Fraser on the co-option of gender politics by the ‘new spirit’ of post-Fordist capitalism, and subordination of its radical critique to a World Bank agenda. Might a neo-Keynesian shift offer prospects for socialist-feminist renewal?
Value Theory and the Chinese Worker
In answer, Blackburn explores the paradoxes of fictitious capital, underwritten by super-exploitation of China’s producers. A public-utility credit system, democratic forms of nationalization and mechanisms to socialize investment as steps towards financial dual power.
The Winding Paths of Capital
The author of Long Twentieth Century and Adam Smith in Beijing, interviewed by David Harvey, on dispossession and development, capitalist crises, China’s future. The political education of a teenage factory-manager, via African liberation struggles and autonomia operaia; and influences—Braudel, Gramsci, Smith, Marx—in Arrighi’s work.
Colletti on the Credit Crunch
What political opportunities arise from the current financial crisis? In a critical response to Robin Blackburn’s essay in NLR 50, Geoff Mann proposes the insights of Marx’s theory of value as a starting point for thinking beyond capitalist social relations—as Blackburn’s measures, he argues, do not.
Asset-Stripping the State
Within the global wave of privatizations, those enacted in Latin America stand out for their breathtaking speed and scale. Medeiros contends that the principal motivation was not economic but political, driven by new capitalist coalitions emerging from the 1980s debt crisis.
Crisis in the Heartland
Against mainstream accounts, Peter Gowan argues that the origins of the global financial crisis lie in the dynamics of the New Wall Street System that has emerged since the 1980s. Contours of the Atlantic model, and implications—geopolitical, ideological, economic—of its blow-out.
Profits of Doom?
Can the economic history of the past three to four decades be accurately depicted as a long downturn? Contesting Robert Brenner’s account of them in his Economics of Global Turbulence, Nicholas Crafts argues that the ‘Great Moderation’ is a better description of a period in which the United States came to enjoy a strong lead in productivity growth.
More System, Please!
Commending Brenner’s overall narrative of post-war economic development, Kozo Yamamura holds it to be nevertheless too narrow—needing more attention to modern capital markets, to historical cycles of technological change, and to institutional differences between the leading industrial states.
Changing Colours in China
The nature of China’s present socio-economic system has for some time been hotly debated. Reflecting on Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing, Joel Andreas traces the path of property relations, social services and income distribution in the PRC since the late seventies, reaching unambiguous conclusions.
Into a New Growth Regime
Should the story of contemporary capitalism be told as essentially an American tale? Counterposing a more Braudelian understanding of the global economy to Brenner’s approach, Michel Aglietta sees a new mode of regulation, and distribution of growth, emerging out of the Asian crisis of the nineties.
The Right to the City
Examining the link between urbanization and capitalism, David Harvey suggests we view Haussmann’s reshaping of Paris and today’s explosive growth of cities as responses to systemic crises of accumulation—and issues a call to democratize the power to shape the urban experience.
Financial Regime Change?
As stock markets plunge and governments scramble to bail out the finance sector, Robert Wade argues that we are exiting the neoliberal paradigm that has held sway since the 1980s. Causes and repercussions of the crisis, and errors of the model that brought it to fruition.
The Historian as Haruspex
Giovanni Arrighi’s Adam Smith in Beijing proposes a bold new political-economic patterning of China’s rise, America’s decline. Mark Elvin examines the assumptions behind narratives of divergent West and East, and the parameters that will define a reconfigured world order.
The transformation of the former Portuguese enclave of Macau into East Asia’s gambling capital by an alliance of local elites and Las Vegas entrepreneurs, under the approving gaze of Beijing. A frenzy of construction, rising inequalities and rampant corruption as outcomes of a neon-lit decolonization.
The Subprime Crisis
As reverberations from the stricken mortgage market reach the real economy, Robin Blackburn reveals the origins of the crunch in the shadowy realms of financialization. Precedents from the bubbles and crash of the 1920s, warnings from pioneers and venture capitalists, and proposals for how to turn the crisis to socially redistributive effect.
The New East Asia
The emergence of a new regional order from the ashes of the Asian Financial Crisis. As the PRC’s economic expansion takes it further afield in search of markets and raw materials, how have China’s neighbours responded to the Middle Kingdom’s return to the global stage?
A New Global Financial Architecture?
As the world economy shows growing signs of vulnerability, what mechanisms exist for averting repeats of the Asian or Mexican crises? Banking and regulatory regimes as instruments of standardization, pulling national economies into Anglo-American orbits.
Fear and Money in Dubai
On the rim of the war zone, a new Mecca of conspicuous consumption and economic crime, under the iron rule of Sheikh al-Maktoum. Skyscrapers half a mile high, artificial archipelagoes, fantasy theme parks—and the indentured Asian labour force that sustains them.
The Curve of American Power
Will strategic failure in Iraq hasten a decline in US hegemony? Immanuel Wallerstein surveys the global landscape that might emerge from the longue durée of American rule, with rival regional powers competing for energy, water and markets in an unstructured world-political order.
Finance and the Fourth Dimension
The concept of alternative futures, banished from postmodernity’s eternal present, flourishes on the financial summits of the global economy. Robin Blackburn argues against a neo-Luddite dismissal of the new financial engineering techniques by the Left, while coolly assessing the economic and social costs of their current configurations.
Law and Labour
Behind the struggles over employment laws in France and Germany, Alain Supiot describes a deeper battle over legal systems. Are national legislative models—now benchmarked for investment efficiency by the international institutions—becoming rival products in a world market of norms?
Choking the South
Charting the impact of fluctuating currencies, volatile stock markets and interest rates on the developing world since the end of the Bretton Woods system, Robert Wade contends that untrammelled mobility of capital—private funds above all—reinforces dynamics of debt and underdevelopment.
Superintending Global Capital
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.
Imbalances of the Global Economy
Wide-ranging account of the growing disequilibria within an increasingly integrated global capitalism. Andrew Glyn takes the measure of China's still gigantic catch-up potential, in comparison to previous Asian NIEs, and assesses the impact of its rise across different sectors of the world economy.
The Social and Political Economy of Global Turbulence
In a landmark engagement with Robert Brenner’s account of the long downturn of the world economy since the 70s, Giovanni Arrighi lays out a social and political economy of the roles of labour unrest, national liberation and corporate financialization in the crisis of the post-war order, and the prospects for a militarized US hegemony today.