Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1998


Kennedy, P. (1998) 'Coming to Terms with Contemporary Capitalism: Beyond the Idealism of Globalisation and Capitalist Ascendancy Arguments'
Sociological Research Online, vol. 3, no. 2, <>

To cite articles published in Sociological Research Online, please reference the above information and include paragraph numbers if necessary

Received: 19/1/98      Accepted: 13/5/98      Published: 30/6/98


This article challenges the prevailing orthodoxy which suggests that contemporary global capitalism is in the ascendancy. In the context of an evaluation of the extensive literature supporting the ascendancy argument and a brief synopsis of empirical evidence supporting a decline thesis, a number of alternative theories of capitalist transition are then assessed. It is argued that each theory, in different ways, offers an inadequate explanation of contemporary capitalist development. On the basis of this assessment, the article then contributes to a theory of capitalist decline by examining and explaining the importance of the Marxist conception of social law, the law of value and the role of gold as world money, to an understanding of contemporary capitalism's transition and decline.[1]

Capitalism; Capitalist Ascendancy; Globalisation; Marxism; Social Identity

The Claims for Capitalist Ascendancy

The belief that the capitalist system is once again in the ascendancy has been widely accepted in the present period. People have come to accept it in a variety of discourses, from post modern to neo-liberal, to neo-fordist. Without a doubt the most popular intellectual expression of this discourse at present is the concept of 'globalisation'. It would appear that no social science degree, scholarly journal or publishing company would today be complete without the concept of 'globalisation' (Overbeek, 1993; Sklair, 1995; Waters, 1995). One of the beauties of 'globalisation' is that it acts as a very convenient catchall for a diversity of methodologies and a variety of substantive concerns from finance, culture, changing working patterns, to the study of supra national institutions. If there were any essential claim made by adherents of 'globalisation' theory it would be that the above social institutions and structures are losing much of their national/local character and idiosyncrasies to the logic of 'globalisation'.

Of course it is a rare bird indeed who argues that the full logic of 'globalisation' can ever become a reality; for example, that nation-states will reach the point where they become economically and politically baseless, or that local cultures will disappear under the homogenising effect of a 'global culture'. Nevertheless, those expressing an interest in the processes of globalisation would support the argument that nation-states and local cultural diversities are becoming transformed beyond recognition by the juggernaut called 'globalisation'. Malcolm Waters, from his vantage point in Tasmania, gives one a feeling for the hypnotic effect the 'globalisation' process has on the minds of the academy, when he reflects:

If one can sit here at the spatial edge of human society, looking northward across the vast desert continent of Australia and southward towards emptiness and desolation, knowing that one is thousands of miles from the 'global cities' of Tokyo, Frankfurt, or LA, and still feel that one is a part of the world, then globalization truly is an impressive process. (Waters, 1995).

As intimated above, 'globalisation' is not a self supporting concept, but is associated with, and derives characteristics from, other concepts such as 'post- industrialism, 'post modernism', 'post fordism', 'dis-organised capitalism', etc. Anthony Giddens (1990), for example, has argued that 'globalisation' is linked to the modernist project of rationalisation, militarisation and industrialisation; themselves the result, in his view, of a very long historical gestation period. For David Harvey (1989) the process of 'globalisation', although latent within capitalist accumulation, is limited historically to The Condition of Post Modernity, which is a late twentieth century phenomenon, characterised by the compression of space and time. As Harvey explains, transformations in, for example, communication, have led to a situation where time and space become compressed and our conceptions of them have to adjust as capital becomes 'real time'. For Lash and Urry (1987) the development of 'globalisation' is synonymous with the 'dis-organisation of capitalism'. In this scenario capitalism sheds its national regulatory shell to extend its international domain and to subject diverse cultures to the logic of consumerism and flexible working.

Of course one can identity many more slender variations to the theme of 'globalisation'. Despite these variations, however, and notwithstanding the very real disagreements amongst the theorists who hold to them, not least as to whether 'globalisation' is progressive or negative, or even a bit of both, there remains a unifying belief that 'globalisation', above all else, signifies the ascendancy of global capitalist market relations. In other words, although 'globalisation' may be seen as either a cause of great concern, on the one hand, or as a basis for gleeful optimism, on the other, very few appear to be in much doubt, on both the right and the left of mainstream politics[2], that capitalist market relations are extending the commodification of most areas of life across all four points of the globe, and, moreover, that this is due to something called 'globalisation'. Robinson epitomises the concerns of much of the left when declaring that present day 'global capitalism', as the culmination of 500 years of expansion, 'is tearing down all non-market structures that, in the past, placed limits on the accumulation...of capital. Every corner of the globe, every nook and cranny of social life, is becoming commodified' (Robinson, 1996: p. 15). The recent claim by Francis Fukuyama (1992) that history with a capital 'H' has come to an end, with the 'last man' standing an irredeemable supporter of Liberal capitalism, signifies the breadth of this growing orthodoxy concerning the ascendant nature of capitalism amongst intellectuals of the right. Fukuyama has little doubt that global social relations, as we approach the millennium, are the embodiment of Hegel's zeit geist.

So powerful is the belief in the globalising ascendancy of capitalism that many have now drawn the conclusion that there is no alternative. In this respect William Keegan's (1993) analysis, which culminates with the belief that The Spectre of Capitalism not communism now haunts society, takes on the status of a truism. Paul Kennedy's (1996) recent conclusions that we can either 'brace ourselves for what Schumpeter termed the creative gales of capitalism'...or come up with 'a new global Keynesianism', also epitomises the bankruptcy of the social democratic left perspective when summing up the apparently limited options open to humanity in the face of capital's global ascendancy; In short, it rarely enters the discourse of academic reflection that 'globalisation' can be anything other than an unleashing of the 'creative' gales of capitalism, which one can attempt to 'regulate' or simply allow its head (depending on political predisposition), but can never transcended.

One of the few notable exceptions to the globalisation thesis has been Hirst and Thompson (1996). They argue that there are few substantive or theoretical grounds for a 'strong globalisation' thesis (p. 195). For Hirst and Thompson, globalisation is really the continued, if uneven, development of inter- nationalisation, wherein the power to control economic, political and social processes gyrates between national and international actors and institutions (p. 195). They imply that 'globalisation' as a concept is materially rooted in the decline of Pax Americana (p. 5), which has heralded the shift in power relations between national and international actors and institutions, brought about by the decline of Bretton Woods, the abandoning of exchange controls and liberalisation of financial market. Hirst and Thompson suggest that, contrary to globalisation arguments, Multi-national companies (MNCs) with strong national linkages, not Transnational companies (TNCs), remain predominant; while trade links, capital investments and financial flows remain concentrated between Europe, North America and Japan and so remain far from global in orientation (p. 2). In fact, on the basis of statistical trends in migration, trade and capital flows, Hirst and Thompson can claim that our present 'globalised' world is less inter- national than it was in the decades leading up to 1913 (pp. 26 - 27).

While perhaps too narrowly focused on its economic dimensions, Hirst and Thompson's criticism of 'globalisation' is commendable. Their theme of internationalisation, however, remains fully within the prevailing discourse which suggests that capitalism is very much in the ascendancy. Hirst and Thompson are merely more nuanced in their proposition that capitalism ascends through a combined and uneven continuity of inter-nationalisation. Nevertheless, regardless of the depth of change capitalism is subjected to; the open ended and contingent transformations within national and international institutions and processes is always and in every case a function of this ascendancy. Their adherence to an ascendancy perspective facilitates their acceptance of a reformist politics which limits its horizons to the rather abstract hope that 'International co-ordination, governance by co-operation between the major trade blocs, and national mobilisation in favour of such international objectives offer possibilities for creating a newly ordered and prosperous world economy' (pp. 199 - 200). Empirical evidence of capitalist decline (which is assessed briefly below and which Hirst and Thompson choose to ignore in their emphasis on economic evidence) suggests such a conclusion, however well intentioned, is both abstract and politically naive.

Exposing the Myth of Ascendancy

The magnitude of claims depicting the apparent ascendancy of capitalism may be considerable, however there is an unavoidable problem; the claims simply do not square with the evidence. Despite the supposed 'triumph of capitalism' after the fall of Stalinism, or arguments that reformist policies are what are required, one is overwhelmed by evidence of rapidly increasing levels of poverty and social exclusion, which have spread into all parts of the globe; North, South, East and West. The nature and extent of the evidence, far from signifying the vibrancy of the capitalist system which evidence of sustained social divisions and inequalities usually do, suggests that capitalism is in a chronic structural state of decline.

The decline of the capitalist relation manifests in a variety of ways. One can observe the decline in the parasitic activities[3] of the global finance markets, whose institutions are more interested in 'investing' in fictitious future markets and de-industrialising present ones than advancing long term capital investments. According to a Bank of England survey by 1992 almost one trillion dollars were traded daily in the world's leading money markets; 90% more than the system requires to aid valorisation. An increasingly high proportion of this trade is conducted in transactions with a high parasitic content, for example, in exchange derivatives such as 'swaps', 'futures' and 'forward contracts' (Bank of England, 1992). The scale of the trade in money and money derivatives far outstrips the physical trade of commodities and is increasingly indifferent to the latter.[4] The City of London, which accounts for 30% of total daily global money market turnover ($300 billion), witnessed a 120% increase in its 'futures' market (eg. parasitic contracts which extract profit by gambling on the future relative values of currencies). While, according to the same survey, across the matrix of leading financial centres, 'Business in futures and options...has increased rapidly' (Bank of England, 1992). The scope, scale and power of the international transactions conducted, have bent Western Governments to the will of parasitic capital, forcing policy of an increasingly irrational nature; as witnessed in the US in recent years with the perverse raising of interest rates at the first sign of a substantial improvement in the rate of unemployment! Currently financial speculations are busy calling an abrupt halt to the so called Asian Tiger economies; once the pride and joy of pro Western capitalist commentators, now, apparently, the scourge of a (failed) neo-liberal alternative.

More poignantly one observes the manifestations of capitalist decline in the profound squalor, social degradation and abuse of human rights, not only in those purposely under developed regions of the world,[5] but, increasingly, in the heartlands of the industrialised West. According to the World Bank the international base line figure for absolute poverty is $370 (1985) per annum. Not withstanding the fact that this base line for sustaining life is pitiably low (the average income of full time workers in Britain is currently £385 per week!), the implications of this indicator remain breathtaking. In percentage terms it is estimated that 51% of the population (304 million people) of sub Saharan Africa, 37% of the population in South Asia and 25% of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean will be below this poverty line by the year 2000! If this was not enough, while the populations of the purposely under developed regions of the world slip further towards the social abyss, their total external trading debt with the West continues to rise, thus guaranteeing their continued decline into the abyss. For example trade debt has risen from $100 billion to $1500 billion between 1970-92 (Real World Coalition, 1996). The Human consequences are tragic. According to Susan George (1991), in areas of the third world, 'fully half of the children can be expected to die of hunger- related illness before the age of five', while 'in the world as a whole, easily a fifth of all children..are judged to be malnourished', and, 'one of every eight people in the world is literally starving'. Indeed, argues George, 'almost half [of the world's child population] suffer from malnutrition of one kind or another'.

A not too dissimilar picture can be painted of the previously defined 'second world', especially the former Soviet Union, again after 'global capitalist' intervention from the 'first world'. Russia, having opened up its borders to 'globalisation', has recently faced a sharp increase in economic and social crisis. Foreign direct investment fell by roughly 40% during the course of 1996-7. It is not hard to understand some of the reasons why; against the backdrop of an outdated industrial structure, wage debt escalated to 50 trillion roubles by March 97, while inter-enterprise debt soared to 490 trillion roubles, or 25% of GDP. The fall in foreign investment coupled with a rapid deterioration in the income and capital tax base, has halved State revenues and spending plans, thus precipitating a social welfare crisis of enormous proportions(World Bank, 1997: p. 9). The massive decline in living conditions have combined to reduce the birth rate, increase the mortality rate and reverse the average life expectancy. As Boris Kagalitsky (1994) explains, diseases thought to be conquered by modern science and progress have reappeared with a vengeance in Russia, to claim many lives.

Of course capitalist decline is first and foremost a global process and as such is all too evident within western economies. Since the termination of the post war boom, for example, social inequality has increased to a degree which lends empirical support to Marx's immiseration thesis. Taking Britain as an example. between 1979-90 real net income - after housing costs (that is, access to food, clothing and cultural pursuits) - had declined by 18% for the bottom 10% of the population, whilst the top 10% income bracket had experienced a real net increase of 20%. In so far as the basic requirement of shelter is concerned, between 1978-93 those officially classified homeless had risen four-fold. Moreover, according to the Town and Country Planning Association, during the course of the past twenty years, the quality of housing has deteriorated significantly, compounding all the associated material and physical deprivations that the lack of basic human shelter requirements brings in its wake (Real World Coalition, 1996: pp. 67 - 79).

Other manifestations of capitalist decline in the West are the capitalist system's inability to pander to the labour reforms and the modicum of job security enjoyed after 1945 and often referred to variously as Keynesianism, Fordism, and/or Labourism Today labour, under the ideological ruse of 'flexible working', has been increasingly reduced, once more, to the status of a commodity. For example, less than a third of jobs created between 1992 and 1996 were full-time As Gray (1995) reveals a vicious circle of 'flexploitation' is well underway, whereby 'new forms of work weaken workers' capacity to organise, which in turn facilitate further 'flexibilisation' and intensification of exploitation'. Contrary to perceived wisdom which suggest that the motive is either the benign or even malign logic of capitalist ascendancy, this about turn from the Keynesian/Labourist compromises of the past has been forced upon an ailing capital, for two reasons; firstly, because of the downward pressure that this post war settlement with the labour movement placed on the rate of profit; and, secondly, perhaps more importantly, because of the tendency for the reforms inherent to social welfarism to be transformed into real political leverage for labour in the class struggle (see Kennedy, 1996). However, whether forced on capitalism or not, one thing is clear, the insecurities and inhumanities of such a recommodified status, both at the workplace and the wider community, has come to the surface with a vengeance in recent years, especially so after the defeat of the mineworkers in 1984-5. The casualised, insecure and stressful nature of work in the Dockyards of Britain, for example, with the abolition of the National Dock Labour Scheme in 1989, reveals the dehumanising effect of the recommodification of labour most starkly. In this respect the twenty nine month lockout of Liverpool dockers is the latest manifestation of capitalism's new callous attitude to labour (Lavalette and Kennedy, 1996).

Of course Britain has not been alone amongst Western States in feeling the force of capitalist decline. Despite continued resistance (which is far from settled either way), French, German and other European workers have experienced attacks on their living standards, as national capitals have sought to cutback on their post war settlements with labour (Callinicos, 1994). Across the Atlantic in the richest economy in the world, social decay has advanced at a rapid pace. According to the US Bureau of Census (1972), for example, 'at least 10 to 12 million Americans are starving or sick because they have too little to spend on food' (cited in George, 1991). The US as the originator of the 'downsizing', 'jobless growth' and the casualising of working life associated with the process of 'flexploitation', has subjected the average American worker to perhaps the highest degree of job insecurity and work intensification within the industrialised west.

The evidence, if one were to continue to compile it, is overwhelming in its condemnation of a global system out of control and rotten to its core. As Hillel Ticktin has put it, 'The world disorder..seems to be continuing and indeed gathering strength' (Ticktin, 1994). The scale of such evidence of decline is matched only by the scale of assertion, masquerading as argument, depicting the ascendancy of capitalism. One might argue that the negative features described above are endemic to capitalist expansion and have been since its inception, proving in many ways that it is operating 'as normal'. While this is correct to a degree, the argument here is that these manifestations are no longer a by-product of antagonistic class relations in the quest to expand capital, but instead are the grotesque features of contemporary capitalist survival and stagnation. The manifestations are in fact the product of an essential aspect of decline; capital is becoming increasingly parasitic on its money form of existence and increasingly incapable of meeting social needs of both global and local dimensions. As argued later in more detail, the 'reciprocal' relationship between the world of 'value expansion' and the world defined by social needs has become strained to its break point. The profound squalor and social degradation are the manifestations of a qualitative turn within the capitalist system. The level of poverty and social exclusion, which the supposed 'triumph of capitalism' leaves in its wake, has reached astounding levels and can no longer be seen as a ('unfortunate') by product of its growth and development (as will be explained below).

The scale of evidence for decline makes it all the more necessary to develop a coherent political response from the global labour movement. Developing a theory of capitalist decline and transition has a major part in this process. Such a theory requires a predisposition to seeing capitalism as a historically evolving and limited social form. It also requires an analysis able to negotiate and throw light on how the historically specific social categories of capitalism develop to a state of transition.

Radical Theory and 'Capitalist Transitions'

The gross disjuncture between assertions about capitalism's ascendancy and the clear evidence of its decline, has in many ways kept the embers of a notion of transition, if not decline, burning on the margins of academia both within and without Marxism. The school of thought associated with critical international political economy has attempted to contribute to our understanding of social transformations within capitalism by conceptualising the nature of 'epochal shifts' which are said to occur between societies and within capitalism. Robert Cox, a leading figure within the school, suggests that a minimum but crucial starting point is a theoretical commitment to a historical dialectic method, which enables one to grasp the dynamic of change within (synchronic) and between (diachronic) social structures. Particularly important to understand, argues Cox (1995), is the diachronic type change (eg. the dialectics of the transition from one social system to another).

The purpose of the historical dialectic in a diachronic account is to reveal the limits of the present system and the ways in which it can and is being transcended. However, despite the laudable commitment to theory as a social praxis, Cox (1995) and other critical theorists remain handicapped by an idealist conception of what constitutes a historical dialectic. Hettne, for example, following Cox's explicit methodology, suggests that an 'historical dialectical' explanation of epochal type shifts within capitalism can be acquired through the construction of two heuristic concepts which overlap in history; namely, the movement of a 'Westphalian' political order (brought into being in the mid seventeenth century and based on the idea of competing, but independent sovereign nation states) towards a 'post Westphalian' political order (based on the more modern development of supra-national institutions).

In a similar fashion, Van de Pijl suspends the development of capitalist social relations over a period of three hundred years, between two conceptual abstractions; 'Lockeian' and 'Hobbesian' state/society complexes. Apparently, the 'Glorious Revolution' of 1688 ushered in a 'Lockeian' political hegemony securing England's and later Britain's free market/strong state road to international hegemony. Subsequent capitalist development is then characterised by the hegemonic development of 'Hobesian' state/society complexes. The latter's commitment to strong state interventionism (and here, notably, one can include social formations as diverse as Bismarckian Germany and the USSR) eventually challenges the 'Lockeian hegemony'. Thus, according to Van de Pijl, the collapse of Stalinism and the new global rapaciousness of capitalism, which peaked together in 1989, becomes none other than evidence of a second glorious revolution which finally establishes the global and trans-state hegemony of the 'Lockeian' state/society complex.

Although by no means lacking explanatory value, heuristic concepts of this ilk are profoundly ahistoric, in the sense that they fail to substantiate themselves within the social categories of capitalism, and specifically the manner in which such categories have transformed and become transformed over the course of capitalist development by class struggle (an issue we return to later). Can one seriously inform the inhabitants of those African economies blighted by the re-imposition of global trade, that it is all due to the emergence of a trans-state configuration of a 'Lockeian state/society complex'?

The apparently more materialistic approach of, what has become known as 'World Systems Theory', also falls prey to the tendency to superimpose upon historical development abstract generalisations which tend to obscure more than they reveal. In a recent example of this approach, Hopkins and Wallerstein (1996)[6] attempt a prognosis of the present and future based on transformations within changing 'vectors' (social sub- systems) of labour, state relations, welfare forms, knowledge systems..etc. There are said to be six such 'vectors' in all, and all are functions of the 'modern world system' which has been in existence, argue Hopkins and Wallerstein, since the sixteenth century.

A particular ensemble of 'vectors' organised on the basis of 'long waves' of accumulation are said to define particular 'long waves' in the relentless development of 'the modern world system'. Is the present neo-liberal period merely another long wave in its down phase, or does it herald some kind of terminal crisis? According to Hopkins and Wallerstein, the 'modern world system' has both 'cycles and trends' which restore equilibrium, but also move society continually away from equilibrium. This 'dialectic' they suggests, must at some point in the system's development bring about a profound crisis, heralding a long period of transition towards a new system. Yet, despite a detailed account of the changes within each 'vector' during the period 1945 to 1990, Hopkins and Wallerstein remain ambiguous as to what the future will be. They consider two possibilities, but remain non committal; either the system will revitalise itself, or it will terminate due to the successful challenge to it from a number of trends, including anti-statism, anti- scientism, anti-secularism and a pro ecological movement. One can recognise the complexity and degree of openendedness of contemporary capitalist society, while still expecting a clear prognosis which does not slide into deterministic causal prediction.

Questions have to be asked of a theory which can posit both the possibility of systemic renewal and terminal decline. Specifically, one has to enquire into the concept of 'world system' deployed. One should not be surprised to find that it is in fact a highly mechanistic and functionalist concept, constructed, not out of historically specific social relations between real individuals, social groups and classes, but out of smaller mechanical 'sub-systems' called 'vectors'. Given such a 'systems analysis', one can easily re-arrange the social actors as well as the 'systems' themselves, to conceptualise any number of scenarios. Of course the scenarios one constructs are limited by empirical rigour (which is why Hopkins and Wallerstein limit themselves to two scenarios). Nevertheless, whether one has two or two hundred scenarios, they are ultimately fashioned out of conceptual acumen and not the historically specific social relations from which they ought to be derived if future social trends are to be clearly discerned.

Modern Marxism has fared little better than some of the radical theories described above. Often they have fared worse, especially when exuding the 'atomistic' ontology so rightly rejected by critical international political economy. The atomistic ontology which has sunk itself into Marxism reveals itself when Marxists refer to capitalist decline as something 'ebbing', 'shrinking', or dwindling'..etc. Indeed, when these words refer to manifestations of capitalism such as declining rates of profitability, balance of payments crises..etc, they are adequate expressions. However, as I hope to explain below, such words do not capture the deeper meaning of decline implicit in Marxism. Ultimately they deal in the more superficial conceptual currency of 'long wave theory' (see for example Mandel, 1975); or debates surrounding 'Post-Fordism/Post Capitalism (eg. Agliatta, 1979; Hall and Jacques, 1989; Jessop, 1992) or, with theories linking, in one way or another, capitalist decline with developments of divisions within and between capital which led to imperialism and eventually the parasitic dominance of finance capital (see, for example, Hilferding, 1981; Ingham, 1984; Hobson, 1988; Overbeek, 1990; Lenin, 1996). While they are valuable components of a complete theory of decline, they do not amount to a theory of decline as such. Like the radical theory above, they amount only to a discussion of either 'cycles' or 'shifts' within the expansionary logic of capital.

Bearing in mind the reification suffered by Marxist theory at the hands of Stalinism,[7] one can understand the suspicion raised by Marxists and radical theorists when confronted with theories of decline which continue to embrace laws of development and laws of decline/transition. It is of little surprise that Marxists who do write about decline find themselves either ignored, or else, openly disparaged by those closest to Marxism.[8] Nevertheless, one has to say that, in dismissing and/or deriding notions of, what are at base socially constructed, 'laws' tout a feit, such people operate with a misconception of Marxism which seriously hinders their wider understanding of the negative manfestations of contemporary capitalist decline outlined earlier. It is of paramount importance to overcome the deafening silence which has gripped Marxists and socialists on the subject of social laws and, relatedly, capitalist decline. The denial of the explanatory power of a Marxism based on social laws has made much of modern Marxism at best evasive about the future and at worst mute in the face of arguments celebrating capital's global ascendancy. The remainder of this article is given over to highlighting the explanatory power of Marxist notions of social law and, on the basis of this, drawing out the kind of theory of capitalist transition and decline which explains the empirical evidence and which contemporary Marxism should be focusing on.

An Outline of the Ontological Presuppositions of Social Law

According to the reviewer of Marx's first volume of Capital for the May 1872 edition of The European Messenger, St Petersburg, Marxism's principal and ultimate objective is to disclose through scientific investigation:

the special laws that regulate the origin, existence, development, death of a given social organism and its replacement by another and higher one. (Marx, 1983: p. 28).

Marxism is intellectually indebted to both Aristotle and Hegel for defining the ontology nature of the 'special laws' of society referred to above (Meikle, 1985). In taking account of this two- fold intellectual debt it would seem fitting to identify the Marxist approach to social laws as being that of dialectical essentialism. Central to dialectical essentialism are its defining concepts; 'essence', identity/difference', 'dialectics', 'law' and 'negation'. The relationships pertaining between these concepts are central to an understanding of the kind of thing Marxism has in mind when defining and explaining 'social laws', especially the 'law of value' and its development, decline and transition within capitalist society. We therefore need to consider, briefly, the relationships between the concepts.

Identity and difference, for Marxism, refers specifically to the contradiction between identity and difference which provides the inner dynamic, so to speak, of social laws. The ultimate contradiction for humanity is that individuals in so far as they are social beings must derive their individual identity in and through society, while at the same time, to salvage individuality, they must also strive to maintain some semblance of their difference vis-a-vis society. This is a necessary condition of social life, with the important caveat that each society particularises its perceptions of identity and difference and the contradictory modes of their existence. In class bound societies, for example, individuals experience a double identity, as both members of a class and as species beings of society. For Marxists, this 'doubling' of identity is the basis of alienation, because it is only in and through the lived experience of class that individuals can mediate their species, or society identity and, in the process ground their individuality.

As one might expect, this alienated form of mediation restricts the development of individuality, because it restricts an individual's capacity to assert their differences with each other and the social totality in a variety of ways. This explains some of the reasons why individuals are reluctant on most occasions to identify themselves with a class (their alienated form of identity), even though acting as a class is foundational to abolishing the very condition of their alienation. Thus, only on certain occasions can individuals be drawn to act as a class on the stage of history, usually because their lives have become insufferable. This is one major reason why most complex versions of Marxism do not assume and need to assume that classes stalk the historical stage on a daily basis.

The class bound nature of society, then, sets in a double negative for individuals: in so far as their social (class) identity is the basis of their alienation, it becomes a condition to be denied, misconceived or shirked at the cultural and political level; this, in turn, sustains and facilitates the economic basis of class divisions, making any meaningful non class identity an impossibility. The overall result is that species identity is often seen as unobtainable and is denied as 'essentialist mythology'.[9]

A further theoretical clarification is to suggest that social law is the movement of the contradiction between identity and difference. In other words, social laws are dialectical movements generated by individuals as they strive for difference through identity. More specifically still, social laws of development, decline and transition, refer generally to the movement of the social contradiction between, on the one hand, the identity imposed by determinate social production relations and, on the other hand, the condition of difference imposed by the need for individuals to freely express their powers and capacities.

Although social production relations (generally class relations) impose an alienated social identity on individuals, this imposition has its limits which are set by the degree to which the system can provide for at least some expression of individuality. This is the measure of the system's development, decline and transition. In the developmental phase the system offers a majority of individuals a sense of freedom (no mater how attenuated by class position), especially relative to the limitations of a previous social system. In the decline and transition phase, the system suffers a double loss: it loses both its capacity to impose its own mode of alienated class bound identity and it loses any capacity it may once have had to provide adequate expression for even the most narrowly defined, attenuated individuality.

In capitalist society, specifically in its developmental phase, the capacity to impose an alienated form of social identity is realised through the process of commodity fetishism, wherein the movement of humanity through identity and difference is established through commodity production and circulation. For those who own, manage, or exert some control over their own work and other people's work, the standard of living attained and the sense of 'freedom' realised in the market place, does provide space for a limited sense of individual self expression. For the majority the limits to freedom are even narrower.

Even in such developmental phases, however, capitalist production relations, through the intrusion of the value form (of which more below) - and its manifestation, the market - polarise humanity's expression of social identity and difference as no other society has done before. The fetishism at the heart of this (in)human relation is revealed in its most stark theoretical form in neo-classical economics; jointly, in the concept of 'consumer sovereignty' and 'rational homo-economicus'. Nevertheless, in so far as capitalism unleashes the forces of production, it at least lays the potential for a more thorough assimilation of social identity and difference; a process implicit in Marx's depiction of communism as 'freedom from necessity' (note, not the abolition of necessity, as per post-modernism). By the same token, capitalism's decline phase would be signified by the loss of its capacity to impose control through commodity fetishism and its capacity to guarantee even the narrowest definitions of 'freedom' and 'individuality'; in other words signified by social exclusion, deprivation and financial parasitism.

Up to this point we have assessed identity and difference as the basis of 'social laws' and contradiction as the inner dynamic of social opposition and social unity. However, the more adequate dynamics of 'social laws' (their development and decline) can be understood by referral to the concept of essential mediation. Essential mediation is the real ontological foundation in and through which identity and difference gain their existence. Without the capacity of mediation the relationship between identity and difference could be mistaken as discrete and mere externality; in a word, without contradiction. As Hegel (1975) observes, 'So long as the one is fixed as one, it is certainly impossible to regard its congression with others as anything but external and mechanical'. For Marxism, alert to Hegel's warning regarding atomist ontology, the essential mediating social category grounding social identity and difference in capitalist society is abstract labour. Specifically, abstract labour is the substance of value relations (eg. social relations expressed in alienated form through the market), while money (especially world money) is the formal expression of value relations (see Rubin, 1973). The point to stress here is that, for Marxists, the content and form of value relations effectively limits real substantive freedom by ensuring that the acquisition of differential social needs, as the basis for the fulfilment of social identity, is systematically subordinated to the status of commodity ownership in the pursuit of surplus value.

It is the above general ontological position on social law, or something very similar to it, which guides a number of recent Marxist attempts to locate a theory of capitalist decline and transition.[10] Ticktin (1991), a leading advocate in the development of a theory of capitalist decline, puts it thus; 'If we start from the proposition that capitalism must be understood in terms of its laws of motion, then it is the law of value which is in decline and hence the social relations underlying the law of value' (p. 155). I wish to extend this and further insights made by Ticktin in the following section, by briefly examining the connection between the law of value (as the capitalist systemic form of social identity) and capitalist decline (as the emergence in embryo of an alternative form of social identity based on differential social needs). This further elaboration requires that one explain something that rarely gets attention: the central developmental relationship between abstract labour and the role and capacity of Gold as commodity money and the subordination of the realisation of differential social needs. One must begin by explaining briefly the essential ontological determinations of the law of value and the social derivation of money and, on this basis, develop an understanding of the centrality of gold as the social expression of capitalist relations and the implications of this for a world set adrift from the Gold Standard.

The Law of Value, the Universal Equivalent and Capitalist Decline

One of the central messages in Marx's overall theory was that when labour in the form of wage labour dominates social production relations, the direct social production bonds, which may have characterised earlier societies, are severed. Ideally this defines the situation when the capitalist system reaches its highest potential. An additional ideal when capitalism is at a peak, is that the market system not only regulates social intercourse, but also ensures that social intercourse occurs at the level of individuality, not class. The legal relations established on the basis of Liberal notions of freedom and equality provide this ideal social content with an ideal political form and in so doing consolidate it; just as Utilitarianism provides capitalism with its ideal ethical form.

The best approximation in the real movement of capitalist history of the development towards such an ideal social and political arrangement, was the period between approximately 1830 and 1914. The crushing of the political aspirations of the masses in the 1848-50 revolutions in Europe and later in the Paris Commune of 1871, went hand in glove with other events such as the abolition of the English poor laws in 1834 (the last bastion of societal wide guarantees of social reproduction of labour outwith the market), and the defeat of the Chartist political movement by the mid nineteenth century. Although a heterogeneity of reasons lay behind much of these events, their ultimate result was that, both directly and indirectly, they facilitated the economic and political atomisation of labour at the hands of capital. In the case of Britain the political atomisation was to last until the development of New Unionism around the 1880s. Before this, however, British Parliamentary reforms of 1832 and 1868, which extended political suffrage to the bourgeoisie, in addition to the repeal of the Corn Laws (1846), confirmed the unbridled political rule of capital. Within this period too the market gained an ontological sovereignty over individuals and classes which was never to be surpassed in subsequent decades. As one historian put it, 'After the excitement of the first half of the nineteenth century. ... Things seemed to be somehow in a state of balance.' (Hopkins, 1979: p. 102).

Bearing in mind that capitalism subordinates not obliterates past social relations, then, of course, the ideal of the law of value as the dominating social identity is forever being compromised. Nevertheless, one can say with justification that the historic condition and balance of class forces prevalent between approximately 1830 and 1914 were the most conducive ever for the value relation to establish a peak capacity to alienate and exploit labour power.

The realisation and sustenance of such a capacity is materially substantiated by the development of a world universal equivalent expression of the value form (or, what is the same thing, world money) through the process of commodity fetishism. Commodity fetishism is the process whereby social relations between people create a market which systematically transforms use values into exchange values (prices). To do this systematically requires some common social identity to enable the particular exchange values and particular labour activity to express themselves as general social values and social labour activities, otherwise their relation would be accidental. As Marx proved against Samuel Bailey, the accidental claim is untenable.[11] The common social identity must allow for the negation of the two qualities of use and exchange value, so that each is preserved within the one form, or the one identity. The common social identity does not only ensure the continued transmission and social mediation of particular and private labour time expended into socially necessary universal abstract labour, it also, more fundamentally, ensures the continued dominance of value and profit over differential social needs; that is to say, ensures the continued dominance of the objective basis of commodity fetishism.

The State or supra State institutions cannot introduce just any universal equivalent (world money) on the basis of legal recognition alone[12], because, as Marx always makes clear, the universal equivalent is the result of the economic and social process of commodity fetishism.[13] Although Marx was not as clear on this issue as he might have been, his ontological presuppositions indicate very strongly that, for him, world money must be expressed by a rather special commodity, because only a commodity can ontologically express both the form (exchange value) and content (abstract labour) of the value relation at the heart of capitalism. It is in this sense that gold expresses the universal equivalent, because it is both the outcome of particular labour and the expression of abstract labour, and has value itself while also being the value form 'incarnate'. Thus the very presupposition of money as universal equivalent and so form of value is its ontological status as a particular value itself. Relative to the latter, the social ontological qualities offered by currencies can only be fictitious not real; in the same way that stock market speculations and the State's creation of money unrelated to present levels of surplus value extraction are (the latter being the essence of Keynesianism).

Rosdolsky (1989) rightly implies that the establishment of gold as universal equivalent commodity money is the final movement in the full subsumption of differential social needs to exchange value. In fact 'value', 'commodities', 'money', 'having led an antediluvian existence' prior to capitalism, only become Capital within the capitalist mode of production once gold becomes commodity money. In this sense, the development of capitalism is none other than the development of the contradiction between use and exchange value, through its material mediations: as commodity, as value, as money, as capital in and through gold. Each mediation signifies specific social, cultural and political transformations, with the final link in the dialectical chain from commodity to capital, forged with the subordination of labour power to waged labour and mechanised production. Gold is the incarnate expression of this final victory of exchange value over differential social needs and of capital over labour. Thus it is no coincidence that gold as the standard bearer of capitalist ascendancy in circulation paralleled the real subsumption of labour in production. For Marx gold quite simply came to express, as no other form of money could, the substantive heart of the capitalist social relation (Marx, 1973: p. 125).

Gold figured as world money from 1800 when Sterling and then other national currencies became fixed in relation to it, until 1931, when first Sterling then other national currencies cut themselves adrift from gold. The date 1914, the year the gold standard was first undermined, is, thus, a very significant one. For it ushered in the already latent forces of capitalist decline, measured as a decline in the capacity to subordinate labour power and differential social needs to value and profit. Put simply coming of gold signified certain crucial social transformations within society and the class structure which threatened the ontological sovereignty of market relations.

Given the fundamental importance of gold, why did capitalism come off the gold standard in 1931? Relatedly, why, having come off gold, has capitalism not reverted back to a gold standard or some other form of universal equivalent in light of the break up of Bretton Woods and the Dollar hegemony by 1971? Finally, why have the European powers consistently found it so difficult to achieve monetary union - effectively a European based 'universal' equivalent - when they so clearly believe that such a move could potentially open the way to a capitalist boom? There are those who point to the inability to harmonise national and inter-state budgets, and the 'cultural differences' between European nations. But, arguably, these are the manifestations not the source of the reasons as to why European capitalism has thus far not been able to revive itself on the basis of monetary union. Indeed, as Thompson has recently pointed out, there was no general Keynesian era of consensus in international political economy, because each economy had to respond to local issues and institutional arrangements (Thompson, 1993). Yet a Keynesian consensus, albeit variably imposed in different nations, was, nevertheless, achieved on the basis of Bretton Woods the Dollar hegemony and its attachment to gold in 1947. In a similar fashion, there is at present no general neo-liberal consensus guiding the global capitalist economy, Europe included. Yet on this occasion there is no real consensus towards establishing a European monetary standard let alone a world money. Why might this be? An answer to this question brings one to the root of modern day manifestations of capitalist decline.

The key to at least some, but by no means all, of the answers to the questions raised above, lies with the limits imposed on the circulation and expansion of capital by the requirements of the material production of value and the social integration of labour. The very development of capitalist accumulation, in this respect, forces capital in general into a number of contradictory outcomes. Firstly, it leads capital to forsake its essence as circulation capital, as it becomes fixed in the developing forces of production. Secondly, it limits and ultimately reverses the ability of capital to expand value at a rate fast enough to prevent periodic and long term declines in the rate of profit, brought on by the multiple effects of a high organic composition of capital, the overproduction of commodities and recurrent fiscal/monetary crises (see Clarke (1994) for a systematic exposition of Marx's and Marxist theories of capitalist crises). The capitalist system was shaken to its foundations by this contradictory combination in the late nineteenth century, and again during the inter- war depression, and again during the mid nineteen seventies, when the post war settlement was brought to an abrupt end. Thirdly, and by far the most significantly, capitalist development leads to the development of a socially integrated and organised working class, increasingly capable of acting for itself. The history of labour struggle, the development of trade union collectivism and periodic actualisations of labour acting as a class for itself, has been a major feature of the late nineteenth and twentieth century. The most important periods in the West and Europe were the waves of revolutionary unrest in the early part of this century, culminating in the Bolshevik revolution in October 1917 and the global political and industrial militancy of the nineteen sixties and seventies, which were a response to falling investments and the termination of Labourism.[14]

What is most important to note is that the development of these three interrelated processes effectively destroyed the capitalist system's ability to function on the basis of a universal equivalent commodity money. National capitals, driven by the particularising logic of political, economic, military and social objectives, and by antagonistic classes, and in responding to the three processes described above; have sought to make deals and concessions which necessarily debilitate a specific national capital's capacity and will to remain hidebound by world commodity money, which as world money continually necessitates economic contraction and expansion on the basis of global socially necessary use of labour regardless of national tensions. It is on this basis one can agree with Hirst and Thompson's empirical observations that capitalist development internationalises itself in a process which is saturated with continuity and change for different national and international institutions.

Although the decline from gold was necessary to the survival of capitalism, it also facilitated the potential for the labour movement's identity as a class for itself to develop. Further still, in taking away the material repository for abstract labour - world money - the dominance of exchange value over social needs was weakened and, relatedly, the perceived 'naturalness' of the profit motive as raison d'etre of productive activity. In effect the decline from gold signifies the decline of the material basis of commodity fetishism which limits class consciousness. From this point on capitalism is in decline and the use of political atomisation to slow down and halt the potential development of a working class identity based on social labour and social need, becomes crucial to the system's survival.

For these reasons the decline of the value relation is the context for the emergence of finance capital as the dominant fraction within the capitalist class. As Ticktin (1986) has argued, although the tendency may manifests in different ways and to different degrees within national frameworks, one can say that as the basis of capitalist control of labour through commodity fetishism declines, finance capital is forced to take flight (due to the prior development of fictitious capital) into parasitic activity (eg, earning interest through secondary shares and various forms of financial speculation). This has contradictory outcomes for the capitalist system. On the one hand, it further enhance the process of decline by weakening the articulation between fixed and circulation capital thus laying the basis of 'short termism'. However, on the other hand, it also facilitates the development of Labourism (or Social Welfarism), a collective capitalist undertaking to control the working class politically by policing (through administration and bureaucracy) the development of social needs. This 'facilitates Labourism' in the sense that finance capital and related agents of social democracy are forced to make concessions in order to slow down the decline process, while the labour movement is forced to make concessions regarding social needs and productivity in the face of the threat and actuality of sustained unemployment, which parasitic financial relations imply. Labourism was in essence, then, the outcome of a general class compromise which favoured finance capital.

It was largely on this basis that the major Post World War Two political and economic reforms were made; reforms which in Britain guaranteed full employment and universal social welfare provision. Although I have characterised the process as Labourism, the systemic nature of reforms and regulation of capitalism, have also come to be known as Keynesianism, and/or Fordism.[15] The advantage of 'Labourism' is that it captures the Post War transformation as the subordination of capital through the development of new forms of control over labour. In this sense, the advance of such social mechanisms of control as 'Taylorism' and 'Fordism', and of bureaucracy in general (see, for example, Agliatta, 1979). throughout the early and middle decades of the twentieth century, can be understood as part of the imposition of controls over labour subject to the decline of value relations.


It is the breakdown of Labourism since the mid 1970s that has precipitated the speed up of capitalism's global decline. The capitalist world system brought an end to Labourism as a form of bureaucratic control over social needs, because, beset by problems of declining rates of profit, the system could not afford it, and beset by the problems of a re-politicised labour movement post 1968, the capitalist ruling class could no longer tolerate it.[16] The present period is one in which capitalism, although bringing an end to Labourism, has thus far been frustrated in its ability to acquire the ultimate global presence - world money - that it would most certainly require if it is to draw away from its tendency towards increasing parasitism. Without a basis in world money, capital will remain regional in essence. Indeed without even the basis of some form of 'sub'-world money, eg, the ECU, the trend from 'multi' to 'trans' national organisation will remain limited, dwarfed by the power of the true face of 'global capitalism' today, financial parasitism. However, and this is the crucial point, the will to move towards world money is no longer strong enough to overcome the evident political hurdles it would undoubtedly encounter. The capitalist system is trapped by the material contradictions of accumulation. For example, if capitalism were able to bring international monetary order via some form of world money and, on this basis, were to advance on another 'long wave' of global accumulation, then it would very soon run up against its own material and social barriers. That is it would retain vast amounts of capital in a fixed state in the face of the inevitable downward movement in the rate of profit and the potential challenge of a socially integrated, global, labour movement. The reality, for the foreseeable future at least, is that, in falling between the 'two stools' of 'multi- nationalism' and financial parasitism, the capitalist system has stumbled upon the only forms of control over world labour a declining system can muster: a widespread fear and insecurity based on social exclusion, human deprivation, insecure employment, chronic unemployment and, increasingly, direct political force and repression.

Given the latter, the prospects for the less 'developed' regions of the world look very bleak to say the least, while the more 'developed' regions can expect no respite in the dismantling of their social democratic foundations. The New Labour Government in Britain, for example, has taken up, not dismantled, the neo-liberal agenda from the previous administration, by seeking to 'balance budgets', isolate the trade unions, bring an end to the universal principle of welfarism, while actively advancing the proliferation of private pension schemes, which are designed more to satisfy the financial market's insatiable demands for fresh avenues of parasitic activity. In fact labour is being made to pay for capitalist decline throughout the Western industrialised hemisphere, as 'flexibility' and casualisation and permanent insecurity of employment are gradually taking on the proportions of a rather traditional form of control over labour across the European Union and the USA. Meanwhile in South Africa, the most 'developed' economy in Africa, the newly established Mandela regime has set about disciplining labour with a vengeance for the benefit of capitalism, via tight monetary policy, the denial of basic social rights in housing and health and the imposition of high levels of unemployment. While this process is in continuance, the dominant world powers, under the guise of the IMF, are busy exporting their neo-liberal model of labour degradation and capitalist decline to the South East Asian economies, where it is working people again who look likely to suffer the consequences of a declining capitalism.

Capitalism, in all its national variations, is in decline and is thus, by definition, in a state of profound social transition. The argument here has been that the law of value, as the imposition of capital over labour and surplus value over social needs, is in decline and transition. And that, far from the 'end of history' and the triumph of capitalism, or even the movement towards a 'Neo-Lockeian Hegemony', globalism is the manifestation of the attempt by global capital to assert market dominance over social need, in an epoch where exchange value is no longer substantiated by commodity money and in which capital has no other foreseeable systemic mode of control over organised labour except decline, insecurity and semi-depression. The most one can look forward to in the near future, if no real resistance materialises, is increasing parasitism for capital and deprivation for labour. The manifestations of this are the global and local social inequalities, cultural deprivations and increasing degradations of working life which this article briefly referred to earlier.

The left needs to come to terms with this situation if it wishes to act in a politically cohesive manner to work towards a socialist renewal. A fundamental first step is to move beyond the debate concerning the extent or otherwise of 'globalisation' as an empirical reality and towards addressing the issue of capitalist decline. It is only on this basis that one can salvage a politics of social need able to infuse a mass democratic politics capable of taking us beyond capitalism.


1 May I take this opportunity of thanking the four anonymous referees for their helpful and constructive comments on an earlier draft of this article.

2 I say this notwithstanding Giddens' (1994) claim that politics is moving beyond the traditional demarcation of left and right . Giddens is correct in drawing attention to the end of an era when traditional Parliamentary Politics was defined in terms of delivering social democratic reforms on the basis of top down representation. However, for all intents and purposes, there remains a 'left' and 'right' political agenda defined by its degree of commitment to and belief in the market. In this sense the left has been marginalised from Parliamentary Politics, although not from its grassroots, as many of its original members who have sought to remain within Parliamentarianism have been drawn towards the right neo-liberal agenda; an agenda which underlies New Labour's commitment to the rhetoric of 'communitarianism'.

3 By 'parasitism', I refer to the capitalist systems systematic tendency to accumulate fictitious profits through the movement M - M' and, thus, its systematic tendency to by-pass accumulation of surplus value from the direct producers through the circuit M - C - P - C' - M'. Parasitism in this sense has reached a magnitude today never encountered in the history of capitalism.

4 According to Paul Kennedy (1994), 'by the late 1980s, more than 90% of this trading in the world's foreign exchanges was unrelated to trade or capital investment' (p. 51).

5 Walter Rodney (1972) produces a convincing argument.

6 See Hopkins and Wallerstein's (1996) thought provoking and empirically interesting work. All subsequent reference to Hopkins and Wallerstein relates to this book, particularly pp 1 - 10 and 209 - 243.

7 For an overview of some of the debilitating effects of Stalinism on Marxist method see Arthur (1987: pp. 111 - 15).

8 What springs to mind in this respect is the negative response to the work by Hillel Ticktin in the pages of New Intervention over recent years. The debate therein has simply failed to engage with the major substantive issues raised by Ticktin.

9 It is this kind of negative dialectic which characterises contemporary western capitalist society. Under such circumstances identity, often takes the alienated form of a search for 'identity' solely in difference, as is evidenced by post-modernist discourse. However the search for identity is an embedded human condition which does not simply evaporate due to unfavourable conditions. In the context of a decline in the popularity of class identity, individuals become attracted to other 'identities' such as 'gender', 'ethnicity', etc. To be absolutely clear; as necessary expressions of social differentiation they are positive emancipatory forces in society which should not and indeed cannot be overlooked or downgraded. However, as political, non class, identities, they can never of themselves eradicate humanities universal condition of alienation and exploitation. Often, for the best of intentions in most cases, the attempt to assert gender or ethnic identity can lead to the kind of political reformism which strengthens the material conditions sustaining the major social divisions in society. For an extension of this argument see Kennedy (1997).

10 One notable exception is the work carried out in the journal Critique in recent years. For example, see the articles by Hillel Ticktin (1991; 1994) and that by Istvan Meszaros (1991).

11 As Marx (1972) observed, Samuel Bailey's belief that value was something which buyers and sellers imagine in the accidental world of commodity exchange, failed to answer why one commodity - money - could systematically express the value of all other commodities.

12 An argument advanced recently by Geert Reuten (1988).

13 The dialectic between commodities, money, capital as a process of commodity fetishism is established by Marx (1983: chapters 1 - 3).

14 For a detailed assessment of Labourism, see Kennedy (1996).

15 For alternative definitions of Labourism see Gregory (1993) and Thompson (1993).

16 In the case of Britain this reflected itself in the emergence of Thatcherism supported by big business and right wing think tanks. As James Callaghan, ex Labour Leader and Prime Minister, observed on the eve of Thatcher's victory, '...there are times, perhaps once every thirty years, when there is a sea change in politics. It then does not matter what the public wants and what it approves of. I suspect there is now such a sea change - and it is for Mrs Thatcher'. Norris McWhirter reflects on the reasons for founding the right wing group the 'National Association for Freedom' (NAFF), 'In the dark days of 1975, with the IMF knocking at the door of 10 Downing Street, The IRA rampant in London, and 61/4 million fellow citizens inside (trade union) closed shops. ... What was needed was some kind of association which would defend our rights and liberties', both quotations cited from Cockett (1995: p. 286 and p. 221 respectively).


AGLIATTA, M. (1979) A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The US Experience. London: New Left Books.

ARTHUR, Chris (1987) 'Stalinism, Historical Materialism, and Marx's Method', Critique, no 21, pp. 111 - 15.

BANK of ENGLAND (1992) Quarterly Bulletin, (November 1992).

CALLINICOS, Alex (1994) 'Crisis and Class Struggle in Europe Today', International Socialism, (Summer 1994), no 63.

COCKETT, R. (1995) Thinking the Unthinkable. London: Harper-Collins Publishers.

COX, R. (1995) International Political Economy: Understanding Global Disorder. London: Zed Books.

CLARKE, Simon (1994) Marx's Theory of Crisis. London: Macmillan.

FUKUYAMA, Francis (1992) The End of History and the Last Man. London: Penguin Books.

GEORGE, Susan (1991) How the Other Half Dies. London: Penguin Books.

GIDDENS, Anthony (1990) The Consequences of Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.

GIDDENS, Anthony (1994) 'Brave New World: The New Context of Politics' in D. Miliband (editor) Reinventing the Left. Cambridge: Polity Press.

GRAY, Anne (1995) 'Flexibilisation of Labour and the Attack on Workers' Living Standards', Common Sense, no. 18, p12.

GREGORY, E. (1993) Labourism and the English Genius. London: Verso.

HALL, S. and M. JACQUES (1989) New Times. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

HARVEY, David (1989) The Condition of Post Modernity, (Oxford: Blackwell.

HEGEL, G.F. (1975) The Shorter Logic. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

HILFERDING, R. (1981) Finance Capital. London: Routledge.

HIRST, Paul and Grahame THOMPSON (1996) Globalisation in Question. (Cambridge: Polity Press.

HOBSON, A.J. (1988) Imperialism: A Study. London: Unwin Allen.

HOPKINS, Eric (1979) A Social History of the English Working Classes. London: Edward Arnold.

HOPKINS, T.K. and I. WALLERSTEIN (1996) (editors) The Age of Transition, Trajectory of the World System 1945-2025. London: Zed Books.

INGHAM, G. (1984) Capitalism Divided? London: Macmillan.

JESSOP, B. (1992) in J. Holloway and W. Bonefeld (editors) The State Debate. London: Macmillan.

KAGALITSKY, Boris (1994) 'Russia: From Crisis to Catastrophe', New Intervention, Oct/Nov, vol. 5, nos. 3/4.

KEEGAN, William (1993) The Spectre of Capitalism. London: Vintage.

KENNEDY, Paul (1994) Preparing For the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge: Fontana Press.

KENNEDY, Paul (1996) New Statesmen and Society, (31st May, 1996), pp. 28 - 29.

KENNEDY, Peter (1996) 'Decline of Capitalism and Rise of Labourism in Britain: A Theoretical Perspective', unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

KENNEDY, Peter (1997) 'Reflections on the Dialectic Between Identity and Difference and the Politics of Social Needs', Common Sense, no 20.

LASH, Scott and JOHN Urry (1987) The End of Organised Capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.

LAVALETTE, M. and J. KENNEDY (1996) 'Casual Lives? The Social Effects of Work Casualisation and the lock out on the Liverpool Docks', Critical Social Policy, vol. 16.

LENIN, V.I. (1996) Imperialism the Highest Stage of Capitalism. London: Pluto Press.

MANDEL, Ernest (1975) Late Capitalism. London: New Left Books.

MARX, Karl (1972) Theories of Surplus Value, Part 3. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

MARX, Karl (1973) A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. London: Progress Publishers.

MARX, Karl (1983) Capital: Volume 1. London: Lawrence and Wishart.

MEIKLE, S. (1985) Essentialism in the Thought of Karl Marx. London: Duckworth Press.

Meszaros, Istvan (1991) 'The Communitarian System and the Law of Value in Marx and Lukacs', Critique, no. 23.

OVERBEEK, Henk (1990) Global Capitalism and National Decline: The Thatcher Decade in Perspective. London: Unwin Allen.

OVERBEEK, Henk (1993) Restructuring Hegemony in the Global Political Economy: The Rise of Transnational Neo Liberalism in the 1980s. London: Routledge.

REAL WORLD COALITION (1996) The Politics of the Real World. London: Earthscan Publications.

REUTEN, Geert (1988) 'The Money Expression of Value and the Credit System: A Value Form Theoretical Line', Capital and Class, no 35, Summer.

ROBINSON, William I. (1996) 'Globalisation: Nine Theses on our Epoch', Race and Class, vol. 38, no. 2, p15.

RODNEY, Walter (1972) How Europe Underdeveloped Africa. Nairobi.

ROSDOLSKY, Roman (1989) The Making of Marx's Capital. London: Pluto.

RUBIN, I.I. (1973) Essay's on Marx's Theory of Value. New York: Black Rose Books.

SKLAIR, Leslie (1995) Sociology of the Global System. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press.

THOMPSON, Graeme (1993) The Economic Emergence of a New Europe: The Political Economy of Co-operation and Competition in the 1990s. Aldershot: Edward Elgar.

THOMPSON, W. (1993) The Long Death of Labourism: Interpreting Political Culture. London: Pluto.

TICKTIN, Hillel (1986) 'Towards a Theory of Finance Capital', Critique, no. 17.

TICKTIN, Hillel (1991) 'The Decline of Capitalism', Critique, no. 23.

TICKTIN, Hillel (1994) 'The Nature of an Epoch of Declining Capitalism', Critique, no. 26.

WATERS, Malcolm (1995) Globalisation. London: Routledge.

WORLD Bank (April, 1997) Transition.Washington DC.

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1998