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ca The contemporary period of neoliberalism has been witness to the remarkable ability of capitalist social relations and institutions to restructure and project themselves anew – from new forms of production to unprecedented global financial innovations to new political alliances. The processes of neoliberal globalization had placed into question the analysis of socialists of the economic dynamics and social transformations of capitalism. They also clearly wreaked havoc on the economic policy agenda of the Left – whether this is seen as the Keynesianism of social democracy, the bureaucratic command economies of the former – and present – communist states or projects of radical democratization. Over the last 30 years, large parts of the world and economic sectors in the central economies have become re-integrated or incorporated into capitalist circuits of production and exchange. As a result, the political parties of the Left have been either accommodating neoliberalism and the ‘new realities’ of capitalism, as in the case of the social democratic parties, or at an impasse and withering into obscurity, as in the case of anti-capitalist movements and socialist parties. Yet, paradoxically, the ills of capitalism are as apparent today as they ever have been in the last 50 years: precarious work, unemployment and homelessness; deteriorating public services; lengthening and intensification of the workday; rampant environmental degradation; and liberal democratic institutions becoming an ever harder ‘shell’ insulating capitalist interests and agendas from popular power. And the current economic crisis is revealing even deeper flaws in the banking and financial systems. These developments signal the need for re-assessment of our conceptual understanding of capitalism. Several questions are raised. What had been the central features of capitalism and what has transformed in the dynamics of contemporary capitalism? How have these transformations affected corporate structures, power and the state? What is the political economy of contemporary neoliberal globalization? What are the central strategic issues for socialists seeking to reform and establish an alternate economic analysis and transformative socialist project? In Theories of Contemporary Capitalism, the focus is on the key texts and schools of post-WW II radical political economy that have signalled new departures in the theoretical understanding of capitalism and provided essential reference points for researchers and political activists. The course is divided into four parts covering an introduction, the postwar boom, the 1970-80s economic crisis and transition, and neoliberal globalization and financialization.
Objectives: The course aims to strengthen students’ knowledge and competence in the analysis of the political economy of contemporary capitalism in several ways. One of these is to build capacity in examining and deploying the abstract concepts of political economy to understand contemporary capitalism. This involves some understanding of the historical lineage of these concepts, their contested understanding between institutionalist and Marxian theoretical frameworks, and their utilization to gain new insights into the power structures and dynamics of modern capitalism. This will be developed in the readings and especially in the seminars. A second objective is to gain knowledge of the major texts and schools that have formed key research agendas (and thus political interventions as well) in critical political economy since the 1950s. This will be accomplished by organizing each of the seminars and discussions around one of these texts/schools. The third objective is to have students learn to develop, deploy and critique these concepts and ideas in their own writing and research in a variety of formats – discussion, shorter essays and research papers. In reading signal texts and various interpretative essays, as well as writing critical essays proceeding from them, students will learn basic concepts of political economy, assess their limits, and deploy them in contemporary debates. Theories of Contemporary Capitalism seeks to support students in the development of their thinking and writing skills in the field of critical political economy. Readings: The readings for each seminar are organized around a text (or school) that marked a key new interpretation of contemporary capitalism, and some of the debates which followed. The readings are selected at varying degrees of difficulty. The seminars will focus on exploring how the ideas of these texts relate to central concepts, the new theorization being formulated, and their relationship to central theoretical propositions that continue to guide research. This will be undertaken by a combination of formal presentation and student participation. The readings and seminar are designed according to the principle ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs’. Seminar participants come with different knowledge of these texts and competencies, and each further develops their capacities as best as they can. Requirements: The short essay will take the ideas of one of the texts/authors and assess how they might analyse one of: the current financial crises, the wage compression of neoliberalism, the proposed ‘exit strategies’ by states from fiscal stimulus or the rise of one of the BRICs. The research paper can either take the form of: (1) a survey of the writings of one of the authors/schools; (2) a comparison of two of the texts/authors; or (3) developing the ideas of one of the texts in relation to an issue within contemporary capitalism. Seminar Participation and presentation.................................15% Short Essay (3-4000 words)..................................................35% Research Paper (8-9000 words).............................................50%
Course Syllabus Week 1 Introduction: Key Concepts G. Albo, ‘Contemporary Capitalism’ in B. Fine and A. Saad-Filho, eds., Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics (London: Elgar, forthcoming). A. Saad-Filho, ‘Value, Capital and Exploitation’ in A. Saad-Filho, ed., Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction (London: Pluto 2003). C. Lapavitas, ‘Money as Money and Money as Capital in a Capitalist Economy’ in A. Saad-Filho, ed., Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction (London: Pluto 2003). E.Wood, ‘Globalisation and the State: Where is the Power of Capital?’ in A. Saad-Filho, ed., Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction (London: Pluto 2003). F. Mosely, ‘Marxian Crisis Theory and the Postwar US Economy’ in A. Saad-Filho, ed., Anti-Capitalism: A Marxist Introduction (London: Pluto 2003). Part 1 Theories of the ‘New’ Capitalism and Monopolization Week 2 The Institutionalist View: Firms Against the Market J.K. Galbraith, The New Industrial State (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2007). M. Dietrich, ‘J.K. Galbraith: Liberal Politics and the Economics of the Modern Business Firm,’ New Political Economy, 2: 3 (2003). F. Stilwell, Political Economy: The Contest of Economic Ideas (Melbourne: Oxford University Press 2002), Chs. 25-26. M. Desai, Marx’s Revenge (London: Verso 2002), Ch. 14. M. Sawyer, The Challenge of Radical Political Economy (Savage, Md.: Barnes and Noble 1989), Ch. 6. R. Miliband, ‘Professor Galbraith and American Capitalism’ in R. Miliband and J. Saville, eds., Socialist Register 1968 (London: Merlin Press 1968). Week 3 The Monthly Review School: Competition Transformed P. Baran and P. Sweezy, Monopoly Capital (New York: Monthly Review Press 1966).
J.B. Foster, The Theory of Monopoly Capitalism (New York: Monthly Review Press 1986), Ch. 3. J.B. Foster, ‘Monopoly-Finance Capital,’ Monthly Review, 58: 7 (2006). M. C. Howard and J.E. King, A History of Marxian Economics: Volume II, 1929-1990 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), Ch. 6. G. Albo ‘Paul Sweezy and American Marxism,’ Studies in Political Economy, N. 74 (Fall 2004). Week 4 Defending Classical Marxism: Competition Intensified E. Mandel, Late Capitalism (London: Verso 1975). J. Albarracion and P. Montes, ‘Late Capitalism: Mandel’s Interpretation of Contemporary Capitalism’ in G. Achcar, ed., The Legacy of Ernest Mandel (London: Verso 1999). M. Husson, ‘After the Golden Age: On Late Capitalism’ in G. Achcar, ed., The Legacy of Ernest Mandel (London: Verso 1999). R. Rowthorn, ‘Late Capitalism,’ New Left Review (July-August 1976). M. Kratke, ‘On the History and Logic of Modern Capitalism: The Legacy of Ernest Mandel,’ Historical Materialism, 15: 1 (2007). Part 2 Debating Capitalism in Crisis and Transition Week 5 American Radicalism: Democracy and Social Structures of Accumulation S. Bowles, D. Gordon and T. Weisskopf, After the Wasteland: A Democratic Economy for the Year 2000 (Armonk: M.E. Sharpe 1990). D. Gordon, T Weisskopf and S. Bowles, ‘Power, Accumulation and Crisis: The Rise and Demise of the Postwar Social Structure of Accumulation’ in The Imperiled Economy (New York: URPE 197). D. Gordon, ‘Conflict and Cooperation’ in S. Bowles and H. Gintis, eds., Recasting Egalitarianism (London: Verso 1998). D. Kotz, ‘The Regulation Theory and the SSA Approach’ in D Kotz, et al., eds., Social Structures of Accumulation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1994).
M. C. Howard and J.E. King, A History of Marxian Economics: Volume II, 1929-1990 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), Ch. 16.
Week 6 The Regulation School: From the Crisis of Fordism to Post-Fordism A. Lipietz, Mirages and Miracles (London: Verso 1987). M. Aglietta, A Theory of Capitalist Regulation (London: Verso 1979), pp. 9-33 and 11130. R. Boyer, ‘State and Market: A New Engagement for the Twenty-First Century?’ in R. Boyer and D. Drache, eds., States Against Markets (London: Routledge 1996). R. Brenner and M. Glick, ‘The Regulation Approach: Theory and History,’ New Left Review, N. 188 (1991). A. Callincos, ‘Periodizing Capitalism and Analyzing Imperialism: Classical Marxism and Capitalist Evolution’ in R. Albritton, et al., eds., Phases of Capitalist Development (London: Palgrave 2001). Week 7 The Capitalist State: The Interventionist State and Political Strategy N. Poulantzas, State, Power, Socialism (London: Verso 1978). B. Jessop, Nicos Poulantzas: Marxist Theory and Political Strategy (London: Macmillan 1985), Chs. 6 and 10. S. Clarke, ‘The State Debate,’ in S. Clarke, ed., The State Debate (London: Macmillan, 1990). C. Palloix, ‘The Internationalization of Capital and the Circuit of Social Capital,’ in H. Radice, ed., International Firms and Modern Imperialism (New York: Penguin, 1975). C. Tsoukalas, ‘Globalisation and the Executive Committee: The Contemporary Capitalist State,’ in L. Panitch and C. Leys, eds., Socialist Register 1999: Global Capitalism verus Democracy (London: Merlin, 1999). Part 3 Theorizing Neoliberal Globalization Week 8 Post-Weber and Post-Marx: Capitalism De-territorialized
M. Castells, The Rise of the Network Society (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). M. Hardt and A. Negri, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), Secs. 3.4 and 3.6. S. Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights (Princeton: Princeton University Press 2006), Ch. 7. ‘Forum: The Network Society,’ New Political Economy, 3: 3 (2000). M. De Angelis, The Beginning of History: Value Struggles and Global Capital (London: Pluto 2007), Chs. 9 and 12. M. Storper, The Regional World: Territorial Development in a Global Economy (New York: Guilford, 1997), Ch. 1. Week 9 Over-competition: The Dilemmas of the Long Downturn R. Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence (London: Verso 2006). R. Brenner, The Boom and Bubble (London: Verso 2002), Ch. 11. R. Walker, ‘Capitalism’s Recurrent Self-Criticism: An Evaluation of Bob Brenner’s Global Economics,’ Historical Materialism, N. 5 (1999). B. Fine, et al., ‘Addressing the World Economy: Two Steps Back,’ Capital and Class, N. 67 (1999). S. Gindin, ‘Turning Points and Starting Points: Brenner, Left Turbulence and Class Politics’ in L. Panitch and C. Leys, eds., Socialist Register 2001: Working Classes, Global Realities (London: Merlin 2000). Week 10 Capitalism without Constraints: Global Austerity and Neoliberalism A. Glyn, Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization and Welfare (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2007). A. Glyn, ‘Internal and External Constraints’ in D. Baker, et al., eds., Globalization and Progressive Economic Policy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1998). P. Armstrong, A. Glyn and J. Harrison, Capitalism Since 1945 (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991), Chs. 14 and 18. R. Pollin, ‘Resurrecting the Rentier,’ New Left Review, N. 46 (2007).
G. Dumenil and D. Levy, Capital Resurgent: Roots of the Neoliberal Revolution (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 2004), Chs. 4, 11 and 18.
Week 11 Neo-Smithians: American Decline and East Asia Ascendancy G. Arrighi, Adam Smith in Beijing (London: Verso 2007). G. Arrighi and B. Silver, Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1999), Introduction and Conclusion. L. Panitch, ‘Giovanni Arrighi in Beijing: An alternative to capitalism?’ Historical Materialism, forthcoming. W. Robinson, A Theory of Global Capitalism (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press 2004), Ch. 1. L. Panitch and S. Gindin, ‘Global Capitalism and American Empire’ in L. Panitch and C. Leys, eds., Socialist Register 2004: The New Imperial Challenge (London: Merlin 2003). E. Wood, ‘A Reply to Critics,’ Historical Materialism, 15: 3 (2007). Week 12 Historical-Geographical Materialism: The New Spaces of Capital D. Harvey, The New Imperialism (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2003). D. Harvey, The Limits to Capital (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1982), Ch. 13. B. Jessop, ‘Spatial Fixes, Temporal Fixes and Spatio-Temporal Fixes’ in N. Castree and D. Gregory, eds., David Harvey: A Critical Reader (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006). S. Ashman and A. Callinicos, ‘Capital Accumulation and the State System: Assessing David Harvey’s The New Imperialism,’ Historical Materialism, 14: 4 (2006). G. Albo, ‘Contesting the “New Capitalism”’ in D. Coates, ed., Varieties of Capitalism, Varieties of Approaches (London: Palgrave, 2005).
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