Capitalism, Coronavirus and War: A Geopolitical Economy by Radhika Desai 2023
About the Author
Radhika Desai is Professor in the Department of Political Studies and Director of the Geopolitical Economy Research Group at the University of Manitoba, Canada, and Convenor of the International Manifesto Group.
About the Book
Capitalism, Coronavirus and War investigates the decay of neoliberal financialised capitalism as revealed in the crisis the novel coronavirus triggered but did not cause, a crisis that has been deepened by the conflict over Ukraine and its repercussions across the globe.
Leading domestically to economic and political breakdown, the pandemic accelerated the decline of the US-led capitalist world’s imperial power, intensifying the tendency to lash out with aggression and militarism, as seen in the US-led West’s New Cold War against China and the proxy war against Russia over Ukraine. The geopolitical economy of the decay and crisis of this form of capitalism suggests that the struggle with socialism that has long shaped the fate of capitalism has reached a tipping point. The author argues that mainstream and even many progressive forces take capitalism’s longevity for granted, misunderstand its historical dynamics and deny its formative bond with imperialism. Only a theoretically and historically accurate account of capitalism’s dynamics and historical trajectory, which this book provides, can explain its current failures and predicament. It also reveals why, though the pandemic—by revealing capitalism’s obscene inequality and shocking debility—prompted the most serious critiques of capitalism to emerge in decades, hopes of ‘building back better’ were so quickly dashed. This book sheds searching light on the dominant narratives that have normalised the neoliberal financialised capitalism and the dollar creditocracy dominating the world economy, with even critics unable to link capitalism’s neoliberal turn to its financialisations, historical decay, productive debility and international decline. It contends that only by appreciating the seriousness of the crisis and rectifying our understanding of capitalism can progressive forces thwart a future of chaos and/or authoritarianism and begin the long task of building socialism.
This book will be of great interest to students, scholars and researchers of international relations, international political economy, comparative politics and global political sociology.
“In this powerful new work, one of the world’s leading political analysts and economists takes on some of the most pressing issues of the day: the crisis of neoliberalism, the global pandemic, US-led imperialist wars, and the rise of China. She provides much needed historical perspective within a resolutely internationalist framework of analysis grounded in geopolitical economy. Anyone who wants to understand the world we’re living in would be well-served to follow Desai’s intrepid investigation into the current state of global politics and the essential question: ‘what is to be done?’”
Gabriel Rockhill, Founding Director of the Critical Theory Workshop, Professor of Philosophy, Villanova University, USA
“Radhika Desai’s Capitalism, Coronavirus and War explains why the dream of a neoliberal ‘end of history’ has turned out to be a dead end. Her excellent book provides a clear perspective to frame the internal contradictions of America’s neoliberal policies that are driving Western capitalism into austerity and a chronic health crisis as its New Cold War actually is a class war.
What makes Radhika’s book so important is her clear explanation of how the world’s actual history is being created by the socialist Beijing Consensus based on public infrastructure to raise living standards and productivity. This is what the West’s former socialist and labor parties have lost, she explains. Most insightful is her analysis of how the socialist policy of making money and credit a public utility saves economies from the US–British disease of financialization and debt deflation that has left its only hope for prosperity to be what it can exploit from Eurasia, Africa and South America.”
Michael Hudson, author of The Destiny of Civilization and Super Imperialism, Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC), USA
Summary of Preface
This book examines the ashen spectrum of that decay as refracted through the prisms of the pandemic set off by the novel coronavirus and current US-led international aggressions including the New Cold War on China and the proxy war on Russia over Ukraine, the latest two of the many crises that, in its state of decay, capitalism is guaranteed to be increasingly prone to.
The decay forms two riveting contrasts: with the vigour of socialist China and with the failure of the left in the homelands of capitalism to abandon its century-long proclivity to imagine capitalism to be capable of ceaseless produc- tive advance, despite decades of capitalism’s manifest decay.
The critique was developed over the decades in diverse writings—on the United Kingdom, India and the United States, on Keynes and Preface and acknowledgements xiii Polanyi as well as Marx and the Marxist tradition, on Marx’s understanding of capitalism as contradictory value production and the inability of ‘Marxist eco- nomics’ to understand either contradiction or value, on political and geopolitical economy of capitalism as well as its politics and culture, on financialisations and their connection with the dollar creditocracy, on nationalism and imperialism.
On the international plane, they set off the process of uneven and combined development, the struggle between dominant, imperialist, capitalist countries to maintain the unevenness of capitalism’s development—complementarity between their own high-value pro- duction and subordinated countries’ low-value production—and their potential or actual targets rejecting, if they can, such subordination and seeking, through state-led and protectionist or mercantilist ‘combined development’, the similarity of productive capacities.
A decade of further capitalist decay with austerity and political disarray domestically and socialist China’s challenge internationally had already led me to expect a major crisis—for instance, I began a February 2020 public talk I gave on ‘Does Capitalism Have a Future’ by saying ‘the short answer is no’—when the pandemic triggered it.
From the start, my focus, since at least Geopolitical Economy, on the domestic disarray and international decline of the major capitalist countries made it very clear to me that the principal issue was not the pandemic but capitalism.
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