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Political Economy

1: ‘Enemy Combatant’ or Enemy of the Government?

By introducing the concept of war into national law, the latest U.S. anti- terrorist law, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), produces a turning point in the legal and political organization of the Western world. It puts an end to a form of state that succeeded in “establishing peace internally and excluding hostility as a concept of law.”1 It is the constituent act of a new form of state that establishes war as a political relation between constituted authorities and national populations.… | more…

2: A System of Wholesale Denial of Rights

As in the past, Americans owe Jean-Claude Paye a debt of gratitude. From his position, as a sociologist in Brussels, he has proven that he can see what is happening in George Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s America, more clearly perhaps than many who live in the United States.…As Paye notes, there are two important aspects to the regime created by the Detainee Treatment Act of 2005 (DTA) and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA). The MCA recognizes a distinction between “enemy combatants” who are citizens of the United States and those who are aliens. Alien enemy combatants are, as Paye notes, subjected entirely to the regime of military commissions and denied access to civil courts except under limited circumstances. Citizen enemy combatants have access to civil courts, but find their rights constricted in other ways. The alien-citizen distinction in the MCA is a congressional response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, in which a five-justice majority held that the president did not have the power to strip citizens and aliens alike of their right of access to civil courts and to the writ of habeas corpus. The Court invited the president to return to Congress to validate his claims of power, and Congress obligingly did so, thus proving that there are few persons in the elected leadership willing to raise a voice against the imperial powers of which Paye writes.… | more…

Mexico after the Elections: The Crisis of Legitimacy and the Exhaustion of Predatory Neoliberalism

The Mexican general elections of July 2006 produced an official result that some felt was “very typical of advanced democracies.” But this result defied Mexican political experience, resulting in a major legitimacy crisis. With over forty million voters turning out this time, the proclaimed winner of the presidency was Felipe Calderón, the rightwing National Action Party (PAN) candidate, who in the official count beat the center-left candidate of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), Andrés Manuel López Obrador, by 0.58 percent. Calderón took 35.89 percent of the vote while Obrador took 35.31 percent… | more…

Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality

Class Dismissed: Why We Cannot Teach or Learn Our Way Out of Inequality

In Class Dismissed, John Marsh debunks a myth cherished by journalists, politicians, and economists: that growing poverty and inequality in the United States can be solved through education. Using sophisticated analysis combined with personal experience in the classroom, Marsh not only shows that education has little impact on poverty and inequality, but that our mistaken beliefs actively shape the way we structure our schools and what we teach in them.… | more…

Europe vs. America: Contradictions of Imperialism

Europe vs. America: Contradictions of Imperialism

The focus of this book is the emerging economic confrontation between European and U.S. capitalism at the end of the “golden age” of capitalism in the late 1960s. Ernest Mandel here paints a remarkably clear, comprehensive, and detailed portrait of trends at that critical period. Mandel moves with ease from the most general international problems to the specifics of corporate activity, and few developments in the business and economic worlds seem to have escaped his attention.… | more…

June 2007 (Volume 59, Number 2)

Notes from the Editors

In January 2007 the Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre of the UK Ministry of Defence published a ninety-page report, entitled Global Strategic Trends, 2007–2036, highlighting a wide array of potential dangers to the prevailing order over the next thirty years. The report is organized around three “Ring Road Issues”: (1) climate change, (2) globalization, and (3) global inequality (p. xiii). Global warming and the possibility of abrupt climate change, together with the end of “the golden age of cheap energy,” are seen as placing increasing strains on populations throughout the planet (p. 31). The globalization of the world economy, embodying “particularly ruthless laws of supply and demand,” is viewed as creating new interdependencies, contradictions, and conflicts. Expanding global inequality, the UK Ministry of Defence insists, could lead to “a resurgence of not only anti-capitalist ideologies . . . but also to populism and the revival of Marxism” (p. 3)… | more…

Imminent Crises: Threats and Opportunities

egrettably, there are all too many candidates that qualify as imminent and very serious crises. Several should be high on everyone’s agenda of concern, because they pose literal threats to human survival: the increasing likelihood of a terminal nuclear war, and environmental disaster, which may not be too far removed. However, I would like to focus on narrower issues, those that are of greatest concern in the West right now. I will be speaking primarily of the United States, which I know best, and it is the most important case because of its enormous power. But as far as I can ascertain, Europe is not very different… | more…

Wage Stagnation, Growing Insecurity, and the Future of the U.S. Working Class

The most important promises used to justify capitalism are that your children will have a better life than you do, and in President Kennedy’s famous words, “a rising tide lifts all boats,” meaning everyone benefits from the accumulation of capital. These promises ring hollow in a period in which the relative position of the working people of the United States is declining and its ruling class is able to appropriate an increasing share of the national income. This pattern of accumulation and appropriation has become evident to many Americans and this awareness is beginning to affect political consciousness… | more…

The South Has Already Repaid its External Debt to the North: But the North Denies its Debt to the South

The South has already repaid its external debt to the North. Since the onset of the global debt crisis, precipitated in 1979 by a sharp increase in the Federal Reserve’s interest rates by Paul Volcker, the developing/ emerging market economies as a whole have paid in current dollars a cumulative $7.673 trillion in external debt service.1 However, during the same period their debt has increased from $618 billion in 1980 to $3.150 trillion in 2006, according to figures published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The external debt of this group of countries, comprising 145 member states, will continue to grow throughout 2007, according to the IMF, to more than $3.350 trillion. The debt of the Asian developing countries alone could rise to $955 billion. Although they have already repaid, in interest and capital, far more than the original amount due in 1980, these countries are now carrying a burden of debt much larger than they faced at the beginning of the period… | more…

From Military Keynesianism to Global-Neoliberal Militarism

In mid-summer of 2006 a Harris Opinion poll revealed that roughly 50 percent of the U.S. public believed that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) had been found in Iraq by U.S. forces and nearly two-thirds of those polled thought that the Iraqi regime had been collaborating with al-Qaeda forces prior to the Washington invasion in the spring of 2003. All this, of course, stood in stark contrast to the facts as they were then known and grudgingly acknowledged by U.S. policymakers. At the same time, a large majority of the population believed that the invasion had been a mistake and favored significant troop withdrawals in the near future… | more…

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism: A Citizen's Guide to Capitalism and the Environment

What Every Environmentalist Needs to Know About Capitalism: A Citizen’s Guide to Capitalism and the Environment

There is a growing consensus that the planet is heading toward environmental catastrophe: climate change, ocean acidification, ozone depletion, global freshwater use, loss of biodiversity, and chemical pollution all threaten our future unless we act. What is less clear is how humanity should respond. The contemporary environmental movement is the site of many competing plans and prescriptions, and composed of a diverse set of actors, from militant activists to corporate chief executives.… | more…

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