ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Future of Capitalism

How Will Capitalism End? Essays on a Failing System by Wolfgang Streeck, New Delhi: Juggernaut Books, 2017; pp 272, 499 (paperback).

A crisis looms at the very heart of the global capitalist system today. However, crises are not new in the history of capitalism. Since the middle of the 18th century, modern societies, though dramatically shaped by capitalism, have witnessed periodic crises that often threatened their very existence. Over time, different theories have emerged seeking to explain why such setbacks to growth and stability occur at an unnerving frequency. Is it a tendency of the rate of profit to fall (Marx), or the saturation of needs and markets (Keynes), or exhaustion of new land for colonisation (Rosa Luxemburg), or technological stagnation (Kondratieff)? Interestingly, whatever the differences in their theoretical constructs, all of them agreed that capitalism was bound to end sometime, if not in their lifetimes.

These predictions have not come true. In every crisis, the capitalist order has been successful in rescuing itself mainly through exogenous support. In the early 20th century, World War I virtually converted capitalism into a public utility for enhancing the collective capacities of nations. The years following the Great Depression saw the process of capital accumulation being protected in several countries in Europe through authoritarian social and political orders. After World War II, several democratic governments initiated policies largely aimed at preserving a kind of economic stability and social justice within the framework of capitalism. From the 1970s, however, capitalism had been stumbling over several mini-crises leading to the near-collapse in 2008.

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Updated On : 15th Dec, 2017

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