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Global Imperialism and the Great Crisis: The Uncertain Future of Capitalism


In this provocative study, economist Ernesto Screpanti argues that imperialism—far from disappearing or mutating into a benign “globalization”—has in fact entered a new phase, which he terms “global imperialism.” This is a phase defined by multinational firms cut loose from the nation-state framework and free to chase profits over the entire surface of the globe. No longer dependent on nation-states for building a political consensus that accommodates capital accumulation, these firms seek to bend governments to their will and destroy barriers to the free movement of capital. And while military force continues to play an important role in imperial strategy, it is the discipline of the global market that keeps workers in check by pitting them against each other no matter what their national origin. This is a world in which the so-called “labor aristocracies” of the rich nations are demolished, the power of states to enforce checks on capital is sapped, and global firms are free to pursue their monomaniacal quest for profits unfettered by national allegiance.

Screpanti delves into the inner workings of global imperialism, explaining how it is different from past forms of imperialism, how the global distribution of wages is changing, and why multinational firms have strained to break free of national markets. He sees global imperialism as a developing process, one with no certain outcome. But one thing is clear: when economic crises become opportunities to discipline workers, and when economic policies are imposed through increasingly authoritarian measures, the vision of a democratic and humane world is what is ultimately at stake.

Read an interview with Ernesto Screpanti here.

Ernesto Screpanti takes a forensic look at the modern era of globalization, describing it as a new phase of imperialism, where giant corporations dominate and manipulate national states. One does not have to agree with everything to acknowledge the great value and timeliness of this cogently-argued and well-informed analysis.

—Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Research Professor of Business Studies, University of Hertfordshire

Well researched, well-argued, and debunks a lot of popular positions and arguments that don’t hold water but mislead a lot of people. This book offers a reasonable interpretation of some very difficult issues and makes the case for a plausible understanding of what has been happening the last twenty or thirty years. All in all, a tremendous accomplishment.

—Edward Nell, Professor of Economics, New School for Social Research

An original and rich analysis of the new international economic order. It stands as a very important addition to the debates on the nature of contemporary capitalism and involves innovative and controversial policy decisions to meet the great crisis facing our economies.

—Ugo Pagano, Professor of Economics, University of Siena, Italy

Ernesto Screpanti is Professor of Economics of Globalization at the University of Siena, Italy. His recent publications include The Fundamental Institutions of Capitalism, An Outline of the History of Economic Thought, and Libertarian Communism: Marx, Engels, and the Political Economy of Freedom.

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SKU: mrp4475 Categories: , , , Tag:

Publication Date: June 2014

Number of Pages: 288

Paperback ISBN: 9781583674475

Cloth ISBN: 9781583674482

eBook ISBN: 9781583674598