Top Menu

Political Economy

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…

May 2007 (Volume 59, Number 1)

Notes from the Editors

Recent attempts, however tentative, by Congressional Democrats to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq should be looked upon as a victory for the antiwar movement. Not only is the Democratic Party clearly aware that its current congressional majority was the result of popular dissatisfaction with the war, but nationwide antiwar rallies have recently driven the point home. Under these circumstances, the Democrats had no choice but to challenge administration policy on the war. However, it would be a grave mistake to conclude from this that the political establishment in the United States is severely split on the question of imperialism, or that the Democratic Party is shifting towards a general anti-imperialist stance. Recent attempts, however tentative, by Congressional Democrats to establish a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq should be looked upon as a victory for the antiwar movement. Not only is the Democratic Party clearly aware that its current congressional majority was the result of popular dissatisfaction with the war, but nationwide antiwar rallies have recently driven the point home. Under these circumstances, the Democrats had no choice but to challenge administration policy on the war. However, it would be a grave mistake to conclude from this that the political establishment in the United States is severely split on the question of imperialism, or that the Democratic Party is shifting towards a general anti-imperialist stance… | more…

The Imperialist World System

Paul Baran’s Political Economy of Growth After Fifty Years

The concept of the imperialist world system in today predominant sense of the extreme economic exploitation of periphery by center, creating a widening gap between rich and poor countries, was largely absent from the classical Marxist critique of capitalism. Rather this view had its genesis in the 1950s, especially with the publication fifty years ago of Paul Baran’s Political Economy of Growth. Baran’s work helped inspire Marxist dependency and world system theories. But it was the new way of looking at imperialism that was the core of Baran’s contribution. A half-century later it is important to ask: What was this new approach and how did it differ from then prevailing notions? What further changes in our understanding of imperialism are now necessary in response to changed historical conditions since the mid-twentieth century?… | more…

China, Capitalist Accumulation, and Labor

Most economists continue to celebrate China as one of the most successful developing countries in modern times. We, however, are highly critical of the Chinese growth experience. China’s growth has been driven by the intensified exploitation of the country’s farmers and workers, who have been systematically dispossessed through the break-up of the communes, the resultant collapse of health and education services, and massive state-enterprise layoffs, to name just the most important “reforms.” With resources increasingly being restructured in and by transnational corporations largely for the purpose of satisfying external market demands, China’s foreign-driven, export-led growth strategy has undermined the state’s capacity to plan and direct economic activity. Moreover, in a world of competitive struggle among countries for both foreign direct investment and export markets, China’s gains have been organically linked to development setbacks in other countries. Finally, China’s growth has become increasingly dependent not only on foreign capital but also on the unsustainable trade deficits of the United States. In short, the accumulation dynamics underlying China’s growth are generating serious national and international imbalances that are bound to require correction at considerable social cost for working people in China and the rest of the world.… | more…

April 2007 (Volume 58, Number 11)

Notes from the Editors

The U.S. economy in early March 2007 appears to be rapidly decelerating. Orders for durable goods in manufacturing dropped 8 percent in January and the manufacturing sector as a whole shrank during two of the last three months for which data is currently available (November–January), representing what is being called a “recession” in manufacturing, and raising the possibility of a more general economic downturn (New York Times, February 28, 2007)… | more…

The Financialization of Capitalism

Changes in capitalism over the last three decades have been commonly characterized using a trio of terms: neoliberalism, globalization, and financialization. Although a lot has been written on the first two of these, much less attention has been given to the third. Yet, financialization is now increasingly seen as the dominant force in this triad. The financialization of capitalism-the shift in gravity of economic activity from production (and even from much of the growing service sector) to finance—is thus one of the key issues of our time. More than any other phenomenon it raises the question: has capitalism entered a new stage?… | more…

The Only Viable Economy

Once upon a time the capitalist mode of production represented a great advance over all of the preceding ones, however problematical and indeed destructive this historical advance in the end turned out-and had to turn out-to be. By breaking the long prevailing but constraining direct link between human use and production, and replacing it with the commodity relation, capital opened up the dynamically unfolding possibilities of apparently irresistible expansion to which — from the standpoint of the capital system and of its willing personifications — there could be no conceivable limits. For the paradoxical and ultimately quite untenable inner determination of capital’s productive system is that its commodified products “are non-use-values for their owners and use-values for their non-owners. Consequently they must all change hands. . . . Hence commodities must be realised as values before they can be realised as use-values.”… | more…

The Imperative of an International Guaranteed Income

Twenty-first century capitalism is not an improved and benign version of its nineteenth- and twentieth-century manifestations, nor will it ever be, despite daily bluster by the system’s practitioners and apologists that a rising tide of prosperity will soon lift all boats. The animating principles of capitalism governing the pursuit of profits are as hollow and iniquitous now as they were in 1848, especially where human exploitation and the distribution of wealth are concerned. As super-capitalist Warren Buffett remarked recently in a trenchant understatement: “A market system has not worked well in terms of poor people” (The New York Times, June 27, 2006)… | more…

What It Means to Teach

Daniel Moulthrop, Ninive Clements Calegari, and Dave Eggers, Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers (New York: The New Press, 2006), 355 pages, hardcover, $25.95.

Although some idealize and others demean the work of teachers, few people outside the field fully understand what it really means to teach. Misconceptions about teaching influence the ways that Americans think about the profession. One of the manifestations of this enduring disconnect between the American public and the professionals who teach is the low salaries teachers receive. This is the main issue that Moulthrop, Calegari, and Eggers tackle in this thorough and valuable ethnographic study of the lives of teachers, their daily struggle to make ends meet, and what it means to teach… | more…

Theory of Economic Dynamics: An Essay on Cyclical and Long-Run Changes in Capitalist Economy

Theory of Economic Dynamics: An Essay on Cyclical and Long-Run Changes in Capitalist Economy

In his Essays in the Theory of Business Cycle published in Polish in 1933, Kalecki clearly stated the principle of effective demand in mathematical form. By 1935 he outlined his theory of employment, demolished the then-orthodox remedy for a depression — that is, wage cutting — and pinpointed the importance of investment for economic dynamics.… | more…

An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning

An Essay on Economic Growth and Planning

This important essay dates from the end of the fifties. At that time, the rapid rate of Soviet industrialization had directed the attention of economists to problems of economic growth of former colonial areas which had won political independence. As Dobb points out, economists were chiefly concerned with the problems of growth under conditions of private ownership of capital and where investment is primarily under the control of private individuals or firms. The theories of economic growth in vogue at the time derived largely from the well-known growth conditions set forth by Roy F. Harrod and Evsey D. Domar.… | more…

FacebookRedditTwitterEmailPrintFriendlyShare