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Sub-Saharan Africa in Global Capitalism

If we define sub-Saharan Africa as excluding not only north Africa but also bracket off, for the moment, the continent’s southern cone, dominated by South Africa, the key fact about the rest—the greater part of the continent—is thrown sharply into relief: after 80 years of colonial rule and almost four decades of independence, in most of it there is some capital but not a lot of capitalism. The predominant social relations are still not capitalist, nor is the prevailing logic of production. Africa south of the Sahara exists in a capitalist world, which marks and constrains the lives of its inhabitants at every turn, but is not of it

Capitalism in Asia at the End of the Millennium

Two propositions dominated the Marxist perspective in most Asian countries during the period immediately following the Second World War. First, capitalism had entered the period of its “general crisis.” While not reducible to narrowly economic terms, this implied that economic progress would henceforth be stymied. Second, the kind of diffusion of industrial capitalism that had occurred from Britain to Europe, and then in the United States and other temperate regions of white settlement in the period leading up to the First World War, could not be expected to occur in the third world as well. It followed from these two propositions that the development of the Asian countries required their transition, through stages of democratic revolution, to socialism, and that the course of this transition would be made smoother when their proletarian comrades from the advanced countries marched to socialism as well, as they eventually would

Booming, Borrowing, and Consuming

The U.S. Economy in 1999

As we take our first steps across what Bill Clinton likes to call the bridge to the twenty-first century, we’re hearing a lot of praise for the state of the U.S. economy. The word “boom” is frequently used, as is the phrase “the best economy in a generation.” Wall Street economist Larry Kudlow, one of the most exuberant of his breed, calls it “the only adult economy in the world.” The United States, we’re told, is a natural to succeed in this post-industrial era—fast, flexible, polyglot, and decentered

June 1999 (Volume 51, Number 2)

Notes from the Editors

We celebrated our fiftieth anniversary with a dinner on May 7. It was a really marvellous occasion, and we were delighted to see so many of you there. The space was filled to capacity, with 350 people seated, and some who couldn’t get seats at the tables were standing —just to enjoy the atmosphere. We even had a waiting list

Kosovo and the New Imperialism

Note: We have no way of knowing what the status of the war in Yugoslavia will be when the following reaches you. Since its completion, there have been more NATO “mistakes”: the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and of many Kosovar Albanian civilians in Korisa.We can only hope that such events will bring the U.S. government and its NATO allies to their senses. But whatever happens in Yugoslavia, the global dangers posed by the United States and its long-term objectives will persist so long as this country’s imperial project remains intact

NATO’s Balkan Adventure

NATO decided to celebrate its fiftieth birthday with a bang in keeping with the changing character of the “defensive alliance.” It assumed that a short, sharp war in the Balkans would rapidly bring Milosevic to his knees, and Kosovo would become the second NATO protectorate in the region. As I write, this ugly war is over a month old. It is a war that has little, if anything, to do with the people of the old Yugoslavia. This has been a war for U.S. hegemony in Europe and the world, the act of a triumphant imperialism designed to rub the face of its old enemy in mud enriched with depleted uranium

Is Overcompetition the Problem?

Robert Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence: A Special Report on the World Economy, 1950-98 (Special issue of New Left Review, no. 229, May/June 1998), 262 pp.

It is tempting perhaps to attribute all the problems of capitalism to excessive competition. After all, capitalism is generally presented within contemporary ideology as a system which is nothing more than a set of competitive relations governed by the market. Is it not possible then that the economic contradictions of capitalism, and indeed the present world crisis, can be explained in terms of the globalization of competition which now knows no bounds, and is undermining all fixed positions, resulting in a kind of free fall? This seems to be the view of the distinguished Marxist historian and social theorist Robert Brenner in his ambitious attempt to account for the present global economic turbulence

Turbulence in the World Economy

Two years ago, the tectonic plates of the world economy shifted. Within a matter of months, the crisis in Thailand had engulfed East Asia. Global financial markets were rocked a year later when Russia defaulted on forty billion dollars in foreign loans. Just as markets were starting to shrug that one off, economic panic hit Brazil this January, sending stock markets crashing and knocking down the country’s currency, the real, more than 40 percent. Pundits are no longer asking if another country will be next, but who will be next

May 1999 (Volume 51, Number 1)

Notes from the Editors

This issue marks our fiftieth anniversary. We’re sure our readers don’t need to be told about the odds against a socialist magazine surviving through this particular half century. We began at a time when socialism was a dirty word in the United States, and we’re still here today, in fact growing again, after a decade in which people have been abandoning socialism in droves


A Socialist Magazine in the American Century

In a human life, attainment of the fiftieth year, while cause for reflection, is nothing exceptional, statistically speaking. For a magazine of the American left, fifty years is a veritable eternity. Simply to reach the age is a stunning achievement