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Political Economy

Trump Digs Coal

Trump and Climate Catastrophe

It would be wrong…to see the new administration as simply a cabal of ignoramuses, beginning with the climate-change-denier-in-chief himself. Rather, their efforts to undermine even modest regulations and to discredit sound science are necessary parts of an attempt by carbon capital to proceed undeterred with burning of fossil fuels, as if this did not constitute a dire threat to the human species.… Today virulent anti-environmentalism, tied to a broader neo-fascist politics linked to white supremacy, is the backfire being ignited against both efforts to combat climate change and the larger movement for social and environmental justice.… | more…

Barclays Forex Scandal

The Tyranny of Monopoly-Finance Capital

A Chinese Perspective

Since the 1980s, economic growth in the core capitalist countries has been driven by an enormous expansion of financial capital, accompanied by steady deindustrialization. In recent years, the monopoly power of this financial capital has displayed increasingly tyrannical characteristics: it depends for its continued growth on ever-increasing indebtedness and dependence in developing nations, widening the divide between rich and poor and ultimately fostering state violence that serves to suppress popular resistance.… [Today,] military and monetary strength work together to profit from inequality and instability in emerging economies.… | more…

PT Party Protest Against Rousseff's Impeachment

The Brazilian Crisis

Corruption, Neoliberalism, and the Primary Sector

In discussing the Brazilian situation, it is easy to focus on the dramas of individual politicians and institutions. But to look only at this level of the crisis is to ignore the deeper economic conditions that have driven the country’s politics to the edge.… The deeper contradiction, however, lies with the natural-resource economy, in which government revenue and social spending require royalties that are controlled by a small, unaccountable elite…. The left’s only viable response…is to demand a radical restructuring of the primary sector and a reinvigorated opposition to neoliberalism.… | more…

The Age of Monopoly Capital: Selected Correspondence of Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, 1949-1964

The Age of Monopoly Capital: Selected Correspondence of Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy, 1949-1964

Forthcoming in July 2017

Paul A. Baran and Paul M. Sweezy were two of the leading Marxist economists of the twentieth century. Their seminal work, Monopoly Capital: An Essay on the American Economic and Social Order, published in 1966, two years after Baran's death, was in many respects the culmination of fifteen years of correspondence between the two, from 1949 to 1964. During those years, Baran, a professor of economics at Stanford, and Sweezy, a former professor of economics at Harvard, then co-editing Monthly Review in New York City, were separated by three thousand miles. Their intellectual collaboration required that they write letters to one another frequently and, in the years closer to 1964, almost daily. Their surviving correspondence consists of some one thousand letters.… | more…

One Belt, One Road Map

One Belt, One Road

China's Strategy for a New Global Financial Order

In late 2013, Chinese premier Xi Jinping announced a pair of new development and trade initiatives for China and the surrounding region: the “Silk Road Economic Belt” and the “Twenty-First-Century Maritime Silk Road,” together known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR). Along with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the OBOR policies represent an ambitious spatial expansion of Chinese state capitalism, driven by an excess of industrial production capacity, as well as by emerging financial capital interests. The Chinese government has publicly stressed the lessons of the 1930s overcapacity crisis in the West that precipitated the Second World War, and promoted these new initiatives in the name of “peaceful development.” Nevertheless, the turn to OBOR suggests a regional scenario broadly similar to that in Europe between the end of the nineteenth century and the years before the First World War, when strong nations jostled one another for industrial and military dominance.… | more…

Chinase Marxism

A Theory of China’s ‘Miracle’

Eight Principles of Contemporary Chinese Political Economy

China’s rapid economic development in recent years is often characterized as “miraculous.” Talk of a “Beijing Consensus” or “China model” has become commonplace in academic debates. But as we have written elsewhere, “theoretical problems have started to emerge with regards to the very existence, content, and prospects of the China model.” The key question, then, is what kind of economic theory and strategy underpin this “miracle.”… [W]e hold that the country’s major recent developmental gains are the achievements of theoretical advances in political economy, originating in China itself, while the main problems that have accompanied China’s development reflect the damaging influence of Western neoliberalism.… We hope to clarify the official theoretical model behind China’s economic “miracle,” using the terms and concepts prevalent in China today.… | more…

Monthly Review Volume 68, Number 7 (December 2016)

December 2016 (Volume 68, Number 7)

In October 2016, the Sveriges Riksbank (Swedish Central Bank) Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel—commonly but incorrectly called the Nobel Prize in Economics—was awarded to two European-born, U.S.-based economists, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström, for their work on contracts related to executive pay. Hart and Holmström were lauded for having theorized what was thought to be the optimal mix of risk and incentives in pay packages for corporate executives, thereby determining the appropriate combination of basic salary, bonuses, and share options. In other words, they received the Riksbank Nobel Memorial Prize for their efforts to rationalize the exorbitant paychecks of CEOs and other corporate leaders—a direct service to big business.… | more…

What is the TPP?

The Rhetoric and Reality of the Trans-Pacific Partnership

A View from China

Since announcing its foreign policy “pivot to Asia” shortly after the election of Barack Obama, the United States has made extensive use of its institutional and discursive power to encourage denationalization among developing countries whose economies chiefly rely on manufacturing and trade—part of its global strategic goal of expanding the hegemony of finance capital at the lowest possible cost. The development of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TTP) is a case in point. This article analyzes the TPP’s strategy in targeting China, pointing out that the TPP is a battle for the terms of economic development and discourse in the twenty-first century, as well as an illustration of the ideology of technocracy and soft power. Lastly, we criticize the TPP’s erosion of economic sovereignty, which would effectively relegate the economies of developing countries to a form of semi-colonial extraterritoriality.… | more…

The American War in Vietnam: Crime or Commemoration?

Lessons from the Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was an example of imperial aggression.… Imperialism ultimately enriches the home country’s dominant class. The process involves “unspeakable repression and state terror,” and must rely repeatedly “upon armed coercion and repression.” The ultimate aim of modern U.S. imperialism is “to make the world safe” for multinational corporations.… U.S. imperial actions in Vietnam and elsewhere are often described as reflecting “national interests,” “national security,” or “national defense.” Endless U.S. wars and regime changes, however, actually represent the class interests of the powerful who own and govern the country. Noam Chomsky argues that if one wishes to understand imperial wars, therefore, “it is a good idea to begin by investigating the domestic social structure. Who sets foreign policy? What interest do these people represent? What is the domestic source of their power?”… | more…

Monthly Review Volume 68, Number 6 (November 2016)

November 2016 (Volume 68, Number 6)

Notes from the Editors

U.S. presidential elections, if nothing else, throw considerable light on the ideology and imperatives of the system. This is particularly the case with respect to imperialism, where one sees signs of a declining and increasingly desperate U.S. empire. Hillary Clinton has been calling for a no-fly zone in Syria (which would include Russian planes!), thereby threatening a confrontation with Russia on a level not seen since the Cuban Missile Crisis.… Trump, for his part, while appearing to suggest a kind of détente with Russia, is ready to intervene directly and massively in Iraq against the Islamic State (ISIS, ISIL, Daesh), including the use of ground troops. He supports the extension of torture and the slaughter of whole families of suspected terrorists. He claims that he would raise Israel from being a second-level power…. In short, the presidential nominees for the two major political parties are each posturing over who is the most aggressive and bellicose upholder of U.S. militarism and imperialism—and in ways that threaten further escalation of war in the Middle East and in opposition to Russia.… | more…

The Great Inequality by Michael D. Yates

Measuring Global Inequality

It is by now well known that significant and growing economic inequality is a central feature of the U.S. economy, as previous articles in Monthly Review have shown. However, the same is also the case for much of the rest of the world. Inequality arises in other countries for reasons similar to those in the United States, but each nation has its own history, along with widely divergent economic and political structures. Here we will look first at the most recent data on global inequality, and then at its causes and consequences.… | more…

Intersectionality and Primary Accumulation

Caste and Gender in India under the Sign of Monopoly-Finance Capital

The overarching goal of this article is to explain how the relations between capitalist imperialism, primary accumulation—often misleadingly called “primitive accumulation”—and intersectionality operate in contemporary global political economy. From many recent studies, it is clear that certain populations are more vulnerable to processes of primary accumulation than others, and that many people in the global South now experience the dispossession and displacement caused by primary accumulation without any subsequent incorporation into waged work. Understanding how ethnicity, gender, and class intersect within contemporary patterns of global accumulation is important in order to develop clear political strategies against ongoing dispossessions.… To do so, imperialism, primary accumulation, and intersectionality all need to be rethought, especially in relation to each other.… | more…