The biggest internal debate absorbing the world left for at least the last seventy-five years has been whether identity is a left concept and therefore a left concern. In 1950, most activists on the left would have said no. Today a majority would say yes, indeed. But the debate remains fierce.
I have written repeatedly on the structural crisis in the world-system, most recently in New Left Review in 2010. So, I shall just summarize my position, without arguing it in detail. I shall state my position as a set of premises. Not everyone agrees with these premises, which are my picture of where we are at the present time. On the basis of this picture, I propose to speak to the question, where do we go from here?
The great debate of social science for the last two centuries at least has been how to account for the extraordinary economic growth of the modern world. We all know the basic picture. The overwhelming majority of authors have argued that the story is that of the rise of the West. There have been, however, two opposing versions of this narrative. One is the Whig interpretation of history, which argues that it has been a story of steady social, intellectual, and moral progress whose explanation lies in some particular characteristic of the West (often just of England). In this version, the world is reaching its summit of progress today. The second version is Marxism, which has argued that the rise of the West is part of a larger story of steady dialectical and conflictual historical development. In this version, the present West-dominated world order will inevitably be superseded by another phase of historical development, in which capitalism will be replaced by communism
Andre Gunder Frank’s very long itinerary as a critical social scientist was marked by one unbudgeable constant. He was always committed to a left political agenda, and he was always analyzing the evolving current world situation as a left scholar-activist. I believe that the best tribute I can offer him is to do the same. Gunder’s father, Leonhard Frank, a distinguished novelist and man of letters, wrote toward the end of his life a novel based on his own life. Its title was Links, wo das Herz ist (“My Heart Is on the Left”). This would have been the most appropriate title for Gunder’s own never-written autobiography.
I am going to start with two things with which I think nearly all MR readers will probably agree. One, imperialism is an integral part of the capitalist world-economy. It is not a special phenomenon. It has always been there. It always will be there as long as we have a capitalist world-economy. Two, we are experiencing at the moment a particularly aggressive and egregious form of imperialism, which is now even ready to claim that it is being imperialist
In this successor volume to the widely read Dynamics of Global Crisis, the authors engage in a provocative discussion of the history and contemporary dilemmas facing the movements that are variously described as antisystemic, social, or popular. The authors believe that these movements, which have for the past 150 years protested and organized against the multiple injustices of the existing system, are the key locus of social transformation.
Preeminent theoreticians of the world economy set out their understanding of the long-term dynamics of global capitalism.