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Value Chains: The New Economic Imperialism by Intan Suwandi

Value Chains: The New Economic Imperialism

Forthcoming in August 2019

Winner of the 2018 Paul M. Sweezy – Paul A. Baran Memorial Award for original work regarding the political economy of imperialism, Intan Suwandi’s Value Chains examines the exploitation of labor in the Global South. Focusing on the issue of labor within global value chains—vast networks of people, tools, and activities needed to deliver goods and services to the market and controlled by multinationals—Suwandi offers a deft empirical analysis of unit labor costs that is closely related to Marx’s own theory of exploitation. | more…

The Long Revolution of the Global South: Toward a New Anti-Imperialist International by Samir Amin

The Long Revolution of the Global South: Toward a New Anti-Imperialist International

In this second volume of his memoirs, Samir Amin takes us on a journey to a dizzying array of countries, primarily in the Arab World, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, recounting in detail the stages of his ongoing dialogue over several decades with popular movements struggling for a better future. Along the way, we meet government leaders, activists in popular movements, and working people, both rural and urban. As in his many works over the years, The Long Revolution of the Global South combines Amin’s astute theoretical analyses of the challenges confronting the world’s oppressed peoples with militant action. | more…

The Samsung Digital City complex, in the South Korean city of Suwon

Crisis Management in South Korea and the Hegemonic Strategy of the Chaebols

In the Republic of Korea, chaebols—diversified and large-scale conglomerate forms of capital governed dynastically by an owner and the owner’s family—have grown quickly, dominating the Korean market and substantially contributing to the Korean economy since their structuring in the 1970s. Some chaebol affiliates have grown into global economic powers within a mere thirty to forty years. However, the fast growth of the chaebols in Korea has also been associated with crises and in trying to manage these crises chaebols have not only changed the ways in which they accumulate capital, they have sought to establish hegemony over civil society. | more…

Idle workers at Ford Motor Company's Van Dyke transmission plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan in December, 2018

Economic Surplus, the Baran Ratio, and Capital Accumulation

In 1957, in the Political Economy of Growth, Paul Baran made a seminal contribution to our understanding of the connection between economic surplus—a concept he introduced into the development discussion—and growth. Given that the ruling class controls the surplus of society, how the surplus is used—whether it is invested, consumed, or simply wasted—is at its discretion. The effective utilization of surplus implies a reasonable rate of capital accumulation and economic development. In the following study of the utilization of surplus I compare the size of surplus and gross capital formation in a variety of countries starting from the mid–nineteenth century. | more…

Protesters shouting slogans for migrant workers' rights outside an employment agency in Hong Kong last year. One in three households with children in Hong Kong employs a foreign domestic worker, who works an average of over 70 hours a week

Fighting for Migrant Workers in Hong Kong

Eni Lestari interviewed by Promise Li

The precarious state of migrant workers has become a major area of concern for the contemporary global economy. In Southeast Asian regions in particular, the number of migrant workers has spiked since the 1990s. In the city of Hong Kong, domestic migrant workers, predominantly Filipino and Indonesian women, now make up around a tenth of the total working population. Since the beginning of Southeast Asia’s labor diaspora, activists have been fiercely organizing against the rampant exploitation and abuse of migrant workers. | more…

Chinese Yuan

Renminbi: A Century of Change

There is considerable interest in the history and characterization of China’s economy. This overview of the evolution of the renminbi from the late Qing dynasty to the present, shows how China’s political and economic changes in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are reflected in the development of its highly contested modern currency system. | more…

Panoramic view at Shanghai Pudong from the Eton Hotel

On the Nature of the Chinese Economic System

There is considerable debate within China about the nature of the economy, including recognition of tendencies toward state capitalism. Consequently, most writers focus theorization of the many possible paths the economy could take—whether toward or away from capitalism. The present article takes a step further, arguing that the Chinese system today still contains some key components of socialism and is compatible with a market, or market-based, socialism that is clearly distinct from capitalism. | more…

A factory along the Yangtze River in China

A Subaltern Perspective on China’s Ecological Crisis

The modernization paradigm pursued by China has tended to privilege industry over agriculture, urban over rural, and the middle class over the subaltern, with the country’s growth statistics and policy emphases accordingly geared to such a paradigm. This has resulted in almost mindless degradation of nature. The key question China faces is thus not one of more progress or more growth, but of the multiple tasks of reversing the dire damage already done to its ecology, society, and culture. | more…

From Commune to Capitalism: How China's Peasants Lost Collective Farming and Gained Urban Poverty

India after Naxalbari: Unfinished History

Although the 1967 revolutionary armed peasant uprising in Naxalbari, at the foot of the Indian Himalayas, was brutally crushed, the insurgency gained new life elsewhere in India. In fact, this revolt has turned out to be the world’s longest-running “people’s war,” and Naxalbari has come to stand for the road to revolution in India. What has gone into the making of this protracted Maoist resistance? Bernard D’Mello’s fascinating narrative answers this question by tracing the circumstances that gave rise to India’s “1968” decade of revolutionary humanism and those that led to the triumph of the “1989” era of appallingly unequal growth condoned by Hindutva-nationalism, the Indian variant of Nazism. | more…

Farmers fertilizing an aerobic rice field

Rural Communities and Economic Crises in Modern China

Throughout China’s nearly seventy-year history of industrialization and financialization, whenever the cost of an economic crisis could be transferred to the rural sector, capital-intensive urban industries have had a “soft landing” and existing institutional arrangements have been maintained—a pattern that continues today. We argue that Chinese peasants and rural communities have rescued the country from no fewer than ten such economic crises. | more…