Review: The Making Of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy Of American Empire

The Making Of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy Of American Empire
The Making Of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy Of American Empire by Leo Panitch
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a superbly argued dissection of the growth of both global capitalism and American power over the last 70 years since the second world war. It is tightly argued, with a strong sense of underpinning theory, and plenty of empirical evidence. Their key thesis is that the American state has in practice been the driving force behind the expansion of global capitalism. During and immediately after the war the key actors in the American state pushed set out on a strategy for America to secure and lead the capitalist world. There was a realisation that a growing global capitalist economy was in the overall interest of America, even if it was not in the interest of specific US sectors or individual firms.

This has often lead the state into conflict with the more parochial elements within American state and society. Despite change and crisis over the course of the following decades, this has remained the American state’s goal. Panitch and Gindin outline clearly how modern financialised capitalism is the outcome of this process – a world economy more than ever open to trade with free financial flows.

The 2007-9 (and ongoing) crisis has demonstrated as clearly as ever leading role American retains in this system as leader of it’s global empire. Despite theories of it’s decline, in fact America continues to take the lead in setting, making, and enforcing policy globally. The American economy, and the primacy of the dollar as the global reserve currency, remain central to the world economy. Even rising powers like China are demonstrably operating as integrated parts of the global whole mediated by America.

What has changed is the end of distinct national bourgeois elites, which have grown together into something which is far more globally homogenous – national elites have used the transnational institutions to overcome local opposition to the imposition of policies which support their own accumulation.

This is a dense, well argued un-picking of the development of US reach and power over the last 70 years. It closes with no answers to no answers to how things might progress as we move on from the crisis – although it provides an interesting entry point to work such as Paul Mason’s Postcapitalism.

Superb, required reading for the current state of the world economy.

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