Perspectives on the Global Crisis

An issue of: South Atlantic Quarterly

Perspectives on the Global Crisis
Journal Issue Pages: 200 Volume 111, Number 2 Published: Spring 2012 An issue of South Atlantic Quarterly
Special Issue Editor(s): Moishe Postone, Moishe Postone
This special issue examines the global economic crisis in systemic terms that encompass economic, social, and cultural dimensions of contemporary life. The essays analyze not only the nature of the crisis but also the possibilities of transformative action. One contributor evaluates the historical structural causes of the contemporary crisis to propose future tactics for the Left in promoting egalitarian and locally autonomous and self-sufficient economic practices. Another explores crises in the global pharmaceutical industry, particularly in India and the United States, and the inherent structures of global capital and biocapital through which health itself becomes a source of capitalistic value. Another essay reads the current credit crisis as a way to illuminate how deeply financial markets are embedded in the social fabric of work, ritual, and play and how the persistent failure to regulate market rule has led to an endless cycle of crisis-induced and crisis-inducing restructuring of policy. Together, the essays reinvigorate the study of global and long-term historical processes and structures. In this issue’s special topical section, “Against the Day,” edited by Priyamvada Gopal, contributors analyze the current assault on higher education in Great Britain, including dramatic budget cuts and tuition increases, the resultant student protest movements, and the future of the humanities.

Contributors: Giovanni Arrighi, Gurminder Bhambra, Neil Brenner, Duncan K. Foley, Priyamvada Gopal, Michael Hardt, Gary Herrigel, John Holmwood, Simon Jarvis, Benjamin Lee, Edward LiPuma, Claudio Lomnitz, Jamie Peck, Moishe Postone, Nina Power, Kaushik Sunder Rajan, Beverly Silver, Nik Theodore, Immanuel Wallerstein

Moishe Postone is Professor of History at the University of Chicago.

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Thinking the Global Crisis

Postone, M.

The Political Economy of Postcrisis Global Capitalism

Foley, D. K.

While the depression of the 1890s and the stagflation of the 1970s appear to be manifestations of Karl Marx's contention that the rate of profit tends to fall over time, the Great Depression of the 1930s and the Great Recession of the 2000s appear to be rooted in rising rates of exploitation. Mainstream macroeconomics represents the watershed changes in world capitalism in the 1970s as due to technical improvements in economic theory and policy, thereby obscuring the underlying political economy of those changes. Globalized financial capitalism eliminated upward wage pressures and created an enormous engine for the appropriation of surplus value, which has led to a chronic stagnation of aggregate demand and unsustainable stress on the world financial system. The lack of a coherent solution to the problem of aggregate demand at the world level threatens to exacerbate conflicts among the capitalist nations and challenges US hegemony.

Neoliberalism Resurgent? Market Rule after the Great Recession

Peck, J., Theodore, N., Brenner, N.

Neoliberal policies, strategies, and rationalities have been further entrenched rather than abandoned in the wake of the 2008-2009 Great Recession. Understanding this state of affairs requires careful reflection on the process of neoliberalization as a crisis-induced, crisis-inducing form of market-disciplinary regulatory restructuring. Against the monolithic conceptualizations that prevail in most popular and academic accounts, we emphasize the constitutively uneven, institutionally hybrid, and chronically unstable character of neoliberalizing forms of regulatory transformation. Attention to these dimensions of neoliberalization, we argue, is essential to our ability to understand both the limits and the tenacity of this millennial manifestation of market rule under conditions of ongoing geoeconomic crisis and persistent regulatory failure. On this basis, we consider the contemporary pattern of transnational policy making—characterized here as "fast policy"—and its implications for progressive or radical policy making alternatives.

A Social Approach to the Financial Derivatives Markets

LiPuma, E., Lee, B.

This essay uses the credit crisis as an example to illuminate what a social approach to the financial markets would look like. We sketch out a theoretical and thematic journey whose end is to make the social so visible that a better appreciation of the financial field comes into focus. To do this, we foreground the issues of the production of the market (as a socially imagined totality), the evolution of a habitus of work founded on a speculative ethos, and the construction of an economistic ideology (or illusio) that conceals the social character of financial markets and financial work. Theoretically, we fashion a more social account by developing a notion of performativity that does away with the (now conventional) opposition between the objective structure of the market and the subjective agency of its participant.

Sociability and Market Making: A Response to LiPuma and Lee

Herrigel, G.

Edward LiPuma and Benjamin Lee emphasize performativity to a fault in their characterization of action within financial markets. Though valuable, their reproduction oriented approach misses financial actors' awareness and self-conscious manipulation of sociability in the destabilizing process of market making. More recognition of complexity in financial realms can be a lever for the identification of critical alternatives for its organization.

Pharmaceutical Crises and Quest

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ISBN Paperback: 978-0-8223-6764-2
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