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What Is Trump?
The pitfalls of bad historical analogizing laid bare in ubiquitous attempts to pin a ‘fascist’ label on the 45th president. Instead, Riley argues, Trump is better grasped as an incoherent amalgam of Weberian forms of rule—ramshackle patrimonialism, weak charisma—operating like a foreign body inserted into America’s capitalist-bureaucratic state.
End of the Neoliberal Era?
Prognosis for the US economy, after a decade of unprecedented monetary stimulus. Does the distempered character of the recovery—soaring profits, feverish asset prices, anaemic wage growth—signal a structural crisis in the existing regime of capitalist accumulation, and transition to a new institutional framework?
The Year 1960
Prelude to the explosive struggles of the sixties in California, as the social actors, left and right, gather in the wings. Black student militants, white aerospace workers, City developers, RAND Corps dropouts, Latino activists—and Lena Horne, taking direct action against racism in Beverley Hills.
The electoral watersheds of 2016 signalled a rejection of the global-neoliberal formula of rule, but no viable establishment alternative exists. In its absence, Riley argues, Trump may offer a neo-Bonapartist substitute for a coherent hegemonic project.
Robert Gordon’s panoramic Rise and Fall of American Growth foregrounds exogenous explanations for the fall-off in us economic dynamism since the seventies. Challenging his account, Michel Aglietta explores the role financial rents and shareholder agendas have played in sapping growth—and prospects for a new era of eco-tech innovations.
Costs of America’s imperial project registered in the emotional damage inflicted on its soldiers, and multiplier effects on those around them. Contrasting perspectives—reportage, blockbuster, trauma-group documentary—on men and war, as veterans’ suicides overtake us battlefield casualties.
Mosaics of American Nationalism
Annealed through expansionism after the Civil War, could America’s sectional divisions re-emerge if the empire falters? Kevin Pask explores the changing parameters—closing frontiers, rising Sunbelt—of the nationalism that dares not speak its name.
In the American intellectual landscape, the literature of grand strategy forms a domain of its own, distinct from diplomatic history or political science, though it may occasionally draw on these. Its sources lie in the country’s security elite, which extends across the bureaucracy and the academy to foundations, think-tanks and . . . read more
Since the Second World War, the external order of American power has been largely insulated from the internal political system. If party competition in the domestic arena has rested on rival electoral blocs, combining significant fluidity of contours with increasing sharpness of conflicts, in the global arena such differences are . . . read more
The Last White Election?
Panoramic survey of America’s political landscape as revealed by November’s vote, with age, gender, ethnicity and geography the volatile determinants of Obama’s victory. Within an increasingly polarized ideological force field, how will the coming struggles unfold between Democratic President and Senate and a Republican House, itself consumed by turmoil?
The Golden State Adrift
Long at the forefront of US capitalism, the Golden State is now at the leading edge of its crisis. Richard Walker measures the dimensions of California’s slide—housing bubble, fiscal woes, rising inequality—as well as the underlying demographic and economic shifts.
Obama at Manassas
Does Obama’s victory signal a political turning point comparable to 1980 or 1932? Mike Davis maps county-level changes, from below—minority-majority demographics, subprime suburbs, white-collar financial worries—catalysed by the 2008 campaign. From above, realignment of American capital behind the Silicon President.
Crisis in the Heartland
Against mainstream accounts, Peter Gowan argues that the origins of the global financial crisis lie in the dynamics of the New Wall Street System that has emerged since the 1980s. Contours of the Atlantic model, and implications—geopolitical, ideological, economic—of its blow-out.
The Subprime Crisis
As reverberations from the stricken mortgage market reach the real economy, Robin Blackburn reveals the origins of the crunch in the shadowy realms of financialization. Precedents from the bubbles and crash of the 1920s, warnings from pioneers and venture capitalists, and proposals for how to turn the crisis to socially redistributive effect.
Whatever happened to the Anti-War Movement?
Neither rising domestic opposition to the Iraq war, nor discussions of withdrawal in Congress, can be ascribed to pressure from mass mobilizations against the occupation. Alexander Cockburn investigates the disappearance of the anti-war movement: co-opted by the Democrats, captive to the logic of the War on Terror.
War and the City
As Bush pours extra troops into Baghdad, Pentagon strategists plan for the urban future of warfare. Stephen Graham surveys the emerging network of US military training facilities—Potemkin battlefields and slum simulacra designed to replicate the alleyways of the global South.
Structure vs Conjuncture
Robert Brenner reads the US mid-term results against deeper structural shifts in the American polity. The rise of the Republican right seen in the context of the long downturn and dismantling of the liberal compact: from New Deal and Great Society to the capitalist offensive under Reagan, Clinton and Bush.
The Democrats After November
With anti-war sentiment growing—if still passive—in the US, how will Democrats use their recapture of Congress? Mike Davis analyses likely outcomes on the questions—Iraq, corruption, economic insecurity—that confront a Party leadership hooked on corporate dollars, and myopically gazing towards 2008.
The Curve of American Power
Will strategic failure in Iraq hasten a decline in US hegemony? Immanuel Wallerstein surveys the global landscape that might emerge from the longue durée of American rule, with rival regional powers competing for energy, water and markets in an unstructured world-political order.
East Asia’s Dollars
Discussions of the sustainability of the US current-account deficit—trending upward from $800bn—rarely plumb the long-term motives of its creditors. Taggart Murphy analyses the historical roots of Tokyo’s post-1868 geofinancial support for the ruling superpower, London or Washington, and the implications of China’s rise for Japanese strategy.
Guantánamo’s Symbolic Economy
How to explain the importance to the US Administration of the primitive torture facilities at Guantánamo Bay? Incarceration and intelligence farming, as imagined by LeGuin or Philip K. Dick, and strategies—active and passive—for resisting reduction to ‘bare life’.
Spectacle and Terror
After Gopal Balakrishnan’s engagement with Afflicted Powers in NLR 36, Julian Stallabrass turns to the Retort collective’s conception of spectacle and its Islamist antagonists. Does a Debordian optic occlude the oppositional potential of modern technologies?
Vivek Chibber on Ellen Meiksins Wood,Empire of Capital. Three historical forms of imperial dominion—based on land, trade and production—and their end-point in the sway of capital today. The function of territorial states in an extra-territorial system of profit and accumulation.
From Buddenbrooks to Babbitt?
Donald Sassoon on Victoria de Grazia, Irresistible Empire: America’s Advance Through 20th-Century Europe. How the US reshaped European ideals of consumption and culture, from the stately world of Thomas Mann to that of McDonald’s and José Bové. All the way from the club to the kitchen, learning from Duluth and San Bernardino.
Superintending Global Capital
The end of US hegemony has been announced more often even than that of neoliberalism. Yet American power persists, with little resistance so far from rival centres of accumulation. Rationales and indices of the continuing role of the United States as overlord of world capital.
In the conclusion to his major two-part essay on the new US imperialism, Giovanni Arrighi situates the contradictions of the current American ‘spatial fix’ for the problems of overaccumulation in the context of a longue durée of systemic cycles. Have Washington’s attempts to secure its world role through the invasion of Iraq instead hastened the rise of China?
In the first part of a major engagement with David Harvey’s New Imperialism, Giovanni Arrighi sets out the interlocking dynamics, spatial and temporal, of capitalist development and imperialism. Should US difficulties in Iraq and the ballooning current-account deficit be read as symptoms of a deeper-lying crisis, a shift from hegemony to dominance presaging the rise of a new East Asian challenger?
Neoliberal Income Trends
A dramatic shift in the distribution of property and income to the very richest layers of US society has been a notorious trend of the past quarter-century, reaching dizzying peaks in the Clinton years. But these Himalayan heights of wealth and power are now surrounded by lower ridges of enrichment, with the formation of a new upper salariat stabilizing the post-Keynesian social order.
A Republican Proletariat
Why did cultural bogeys trump economic distress as working-class voters went to the polls in the US? Can the case of Kansas stand in for proletarian America at large, as Thomas Frank suggests? Billionaire Democrats and blue-collar Republicans in the twisting shapes of the 21st-century political system.
The Year of Surrendering Quietly
The correlative to a politics of ‘Anyone but Bush’ has become: not a word against Kerry! Alexander Cockburn on the great silence of progressive America as the Democratic candidate pledges more troops for Iraq, greater fiscal austerity and a strong hand in the war on terror.
The Myth of Anglophone Succession
How far are the systems of British and American international power historically comparable? Can the imperium presided over by Clinton and Blair be regarded as essentially a sequel to the Victorian order guided by Palmerston or Salisbury, or does it represent something quite new—the first true hegemony in history?
The American expedition to Baghdad, and world-wide reactions to the new imperium. From mass demonstrations against the war to the diplomatic hypocrisies colluding with it. The UN as framework of blockade and intervention yesterday, and mask of reconstruction tomorrow.
The Social and Political Economy of Global Turbulence
In a landmark engagement with Robert Brenner’s account of the long downturn of the world economy since the 70s, Giovanni Arrighi lays out a social and political economy of the roles of labour unrest, national liberation and corporate financialization in the crisis of the post-war order, and the prospects for a militarized US hegemony today.
Letter from America
Why does a malcontent Europe not simply sue for union with the global hegemon, discarding its wisps of independence to exchange proud membership of the American Empire for today’s sullen servility? A jeu d’esprit from the 18th century in the caustic spirit of S*** and V***.
A Calculus of Power
John Mearsheimer’s Tragedy of Great Power Politics disdains liberal-imperial rhetoric for a tough-minded theory of ‘offensive realism’. Peter Gowan argues that, whatever its merits, the behaviour of states in the international system cannot be dissociated from the internal dynamics of the political orders they protect.
From Slavery to Mass Incarceration
The fate of US blacks, from the time of Jefferson to that of Reagan and Clinton, trapped within four successive ‘peculiar institutions’, under a sociological spotlight. The origins of American racism and its outcomes in today’s hyperghetto and prison regimes.
A reigning doctrine of international relations proclaims that, despite everything, the world is entering a new epoch of hopeful cosmopolitanism—narrow state sovereignty being overcome by the common and, where necessary, armed resolve of a ‘Pacific Union’ of democratic nations. What then of the asymmetric hegemony of the United States?
US Elections: Testing Formula Two
If the eighties were the decade of the Right in the West, the nineties saw a comparable sweep by the Centre-Left. Does the loss of the US Presidency by the Democrats presage another turn of the wheel in Atlantic politics? With Bush at the helm in the New World, what are the prospects for the Gores of the Old?
The Rise of America’s Prison-Industrial Complex
Why look at the famous incarceration rates of the US only from the standpoint of the consumer—America’s two million prisoners? David Ladipo shows how practical and profitable they are for the producer—attracting investment and generating employment where small towns and impoverished counties need them most. What could be more rational than sentencing laws that keep the industry booming?
Chronicle of a City Foretold
Andy Merrifield on Mike Davis, Magical Urbanism: Latinos Reinvent the US Big City. What are the patterns, and what will be the consequences—social, cultural, political—of the massive influx of immigrants from lands south of the Rio Grande into North American cityscapes?
The Boom and the Bubble
In the last four years, the US economy has posted its best performance since the sixties. What is the connexion between the formidable boom in the real economy and the historically unprecedented bubble on the stock market? Could the inflation of asset values far beyond the rise in corporate earnings be preparing a Japanese-style nemesis?