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The capitalist conjucture

The capitalist conjucture

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Published by Khan Younas Noorzai

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Published by: Khan Younas Noorzai on May 13, 2008
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This article was downloaded by:[Younas, Mohammad]On:8 January 2008Access Details:Sample Issue Voucher: Third World Quarterly [subscription number 789341716]Publisher:RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
Third World Quarterly
Publication details, including instructions for authors and subscription information:http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/title~content=t713448481
The capitalist conjuncture: over-accumulation, financialcrises, and the retreat from globalisation
Walden BelloOnline Publication Date:01 January 2006To cite this Article:Bello, Walden (2006) 'The capitalist conjuncture:over-accumulation, financial crises, and the retreat from globalisation', Third WorldQuarterly, 27:8, 1345 - 1367To link to this article: DOI:10.1080/01436590601027222URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01436590601027222PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use:http://www.informaworld.com/terms-and-conditions-of-access.pdfThisarticlemaybeusedforresearch,teachingandprivatestudypurposes.Anysubstantialorsystematicreproduction,re-distribution,re-selling,loanorsub-licensing,systematicsupplyordistributioninanyformtoanyoneisexpresslyforbidden.Thepublisherdoesnotgiveanywarrantyexpressorimpliedormakeanyrepresentationthatthecontentswillbecompleteoraccurateoruptodate.Theaccuracyofanyinstructions,formulaeanddrugdosesshouldbeindependentlyverifiedwithprimarysources.Thepublishershallnotbeliableforanyloss,actions,claims,proceedings,demandorcostsordamageswhatsoeverorhowsoevercausedarisingdirectlyorindirectlyinconnectionwithorarising out of the use of this material.
 
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   B  y  :   [   Y  o  u  n  a  s ,   M  o   h  a  m  m  a   d   ]   A   t  :   1   1  :   3   0   8   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   0   8
The Capitalist Conjuncture:over-accumulation, financial crises,and the retreat from globalisation
WALDEN BELLO
A
BSTRACT
This article argues that the key crisis that has overtaken today’s global economy is the classical capitalist crisis of over-accumulation.Reaganism and structural adjustment were efforts to overcome this crisis inthe 1980s, with little success, followed by globalisation in the 1990s. TheClinton administration embraced globalisation as the ‘Grand Strategy’ of theUSA, its two key prongs being the accelerated integration of markets an production by transnational corporations and the creation of a multilateral system of global governance, the pillars of which were the World TradeOrganization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The goal of creating a functionally integrated global economy, however, stalled, and themultilateral system began to unravel, thanks among other things to the multiplecrises created by the globalisation of finance, which was the main trend of the period. In response partly to these crises, partly to increasing competition withtraditionally subservient centre economies, and partly to political resistance inthe South, Washington under the Bush administration has retreated from the globalist project, adopting a nationalist strategy consisting of disciplining theSouth through unilateralist military adventures, reverting to methods of  primitive accumulation in exploiting the developing world, and making othercentre economies bear the brunt of global adjustments necessitated by the crisisof over-accumulation.
During the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and the InternationalMonetary Fund in April 2006 Sebastian Mallaby, the influential economiccolumnist of the
Washington Post
, made this observation:
A few years ago, anti-globalization rioters were clogging the streets, disruptingmeetings of the world’s multilateral organizations. Today, something moreserious is afoot. The protesters have mercifully vanished, but internationalinstitutions are in disarray. Anti-globalization may have lost its voice, but sohas globalization.
1
      A      R      T      I      C      L      E      S
Walden Bello can be contacted at Wisit Prachuabmoh Building, Phyathai Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.Email: w.bello@focusweb.org.
Third World Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 8, pp 13451367, 2006
ISSN 0143-6597 print/ISSN 1360-2241 online/06/081345–23
Ó
2006
Third World Quarterly
DOI: 10.1080/01436590601027222
1345
 
   D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   B  y  :   [   Y  o  u  n  a  s ,   M  o   h  a  m  m  a   d   ]   A   t  :   1   1  :   3   0   8   J  a  n  u  a  r  y   2   0   0   8
Noting that ‘trade liberalization has stalled, aid is less coherent than it shouldbe, and the next financial conflagration will be managed by an injuredfireman’, he concluded that ‘the great powers of today are simply notinterested in creating a resilient multilateral system’.
2
In fact, globalisation has not only ‘stalled’, as Mallaby puts it; it is goinginto reverse. And it is not just the key institutions of global economicgovernance such as the World Bank, the World Trade Organization (
WTO
)and the
IMF
that are in crisis but the deeper structures and processes of whatwas formerly seen as an inevitable phenomenon. What was seen, by manypeople on both the left and the right, as the wave of the future—that is, afunctionally integrated global economy marked by massive flows of commodities, capital and labour across the borders of weakened nation-states and presided over by a ‘transnational capitalist class’—has retreated ina chain reaction of economic crises, growing inter-capitalist rivalriesand wars. Only by a stretch of the imagination can the USA under theGeorge W Bush administration be said to be promoting a ‘globalist agenda’.Globalisation was no mirage. But in retrospect, rather than being a new,higher phase of capitalism, it was in fact a reaction to the underlyingstructural crisis of capitalism, something that was masked in the early 1990sby the collapse of the centralised socialist regimes in Central and EasternEurope. Fifteen years on, globalisation seems to have been a desperate effortby global capital to escape the stagnation and disequilibria overtaking theglobal economy in the 1970s and 1980s rather than the Brave New Phase inthe capitalist adventure promised by Margaret Thatcher when she coined herfamous slogan
TINA
 —that is, ‘There is no alternative’ to capitalism. Thepromise of globalisation, like the promise of the New Economy with which itwas associated, was largely stillborn.The crisis of globalisation and over-accumulation is one of the threecentral crises that are currently eroding US hegemony. The other two are theover-extension of US military power and the crisis of legitimacy of liberaldemocracy. All three have been discussed in
Dilemmas of Domination: theUnmaking of the American Empire
.
3
This article is an effort to extend anddeepen the analysis one of these crises: that of over-accumulation.
End of the long boom
The period from 1945 to 1975 was marked by relatively high growth ratesas Keynesian policies institutionalised the reinvigoration of capitalism thathad been brought on by the state-led war economies during the secondworld war. Also known as the Fordist model of production, the postwarcapitalist economy involved significant state intervention and regulationand rested on a class compromise between Big Capital and Big Labour—acompromise that was expressed in relatively high wages that translated intoexpanding demand that fuelled growth. Most of the newly independentcountries also adopted varieties of state-assisted capitalism. The result waswhat is now seen in retrospect as the ‘long boomof the internationaleconomy.
WALDEN BELLO
1346

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