Monopoly Capital Now
BOOK REVIEW / Seth Sandronsky
Don’t let the title scare you. John Bellamy Foster’s The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism: An Elaboration of Marxian Political Economy (Monthly Review Press) is a good read and resource for making sense of the world around us.
Foster edits the independent socialist magazine Monthly Review, launched in 1949 with an Albert Einstein essay, and he is a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon. For the past three decades, Foster has been breaking new ground in writing on the ecology, economy and polity in the pages of MR and MR Press.
Foster’s analytic orientation is Karl Marx. The latter is gaining readers worldwide since the Great Recession rocked the world, and a weak recovery benefits a well-heeled few.
A proponent of Marxist authors Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy, Foster expands their historical-materialist critique in Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order (1966). Foster writes: “The publication of a new edition of The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism thirty years after it made its first appearance as a doctoral dissertation, and twenty eight years after its expansion into a book, is testimony both to the power of the tradition of political-economic thought it sought to elaborate and to the deepening stagnation of the capitalist economy to which that tradition owes its continuing relevance.”
Baran, Sweezy and Foster theorize the system’s class and corporate power in the developed and developing worlds, producing an outcome they term monopoly capital. It is a process and not a thing.
We certainly do not have to look far for proof of monopoly capital. It surrounds us: Big Banks/Pharma/Telecom, comprise a partial list.
Now add idle people, plant and equipment. The epidemic of homeless people and empty homes is but a single example.
Season this toxic brew with stagnant economic growth. Add a dollop of ascendant finance. In eight chapters, Foster delivers a wide-ranging exploration of the monopoly capital theory. For starters, he explains the core concept of economic surplus, and its ties to the accumulation of capital…