Saturday, March 26, 2011

Immanuel Wallerstein on the End of Capitalism

Recently I have been re-reading Immanuel Wallertein's "World-Systems Analysis (2004)." He writes:
Note the hyphen in world-system and its two subcategories, world-economies and world-empires. Putting in the hyphen was intended to underline that we are not talking about systems, economies, empires of the (whole) world, but about systems, economies, empires that are a world (but quite possibly, and indeed usually, not encompassing the entire globe). This is the initial concept to grasp. It says that in "world-systems" we are dealing with with a spatial/temporal zone which cuts across many political and cultural units, one that represents an integrated zone of activity and institutions which obey certain systemic rules (16,17).
Wallerstein does not commit to a Marxist analysis of capitalism. In fact he contradicts many fundamental ideas of orthodox Marxism. He does not believe in the teleology of history. For him capitalism is not destined to bring about a socialist (and eventual communistic) system. Yet, capitalism, like other systems, is not destined to remain. He sees it as a system that is decaying and will eventually collapse. He, along with other world-systems analysts, does not claim to know the outcome of history nor see the inevitability of an improved one. What I find interesting about the book is the way in which he attempts to break down so many aspects of the historical development of capitalism and the way the world has evolved its various institutions over time operating within the world-system.

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