World Review of Political Economy Latest Issues

Below you can find the table of contents for the latest issues of World Review of Political Economy. All articles are Open Access and links to each article are provided below. The journal is hosted on JSTOR and can be found here to read online. 

Market Socialism in Belarus: An Alternative to China’s Socialist Market Economy

Yan Li and Enfu Cheng

Abstract: Since Lukashenko came to power, Belarus has embarked on the road of market socialism, in which privatization has been halted, and the dominant position of state-owned economic components in the national economy has been established; a vertically managed and efficient model of state governance has been implemented, the presidential leadership has been strengthened, and social fairness and justice have been prioritized. In addition, Belarus has kept good diplomatic relations with the CIS (Commonwealth of Independence States) countries, China, and other countries through pluralistic and multi-directional diplomacy. Market socialism has helped the economy of Belarus recover from the decline immediately following the breakup of the USSR and develop rapidly. The country’s economic foundation has been getting increasingly stable. A strong social security system has been established, and social welfare covers the largest social groups, which ensures employment and civil rights to the greatest extent, continuously improves the living standards of the population, and thus avoids social division and ensures social stability. Market socialism in Belarus is a special system of socialist market economy, its theory and practice can teach important lessons to the current practice of socialism and the reform of capitalist system

Keywords: Belarus; market socialism; Lukashenko; socialist market economic system

Game of Thrones, Game of Class Struggle, or Other Games? Revisiting the Dobb-Sweezy Debate

Thomas E. Lambert

Abstract: In 1946, the economist Maurice Dobb published a book that attempted to explain how feudalism gave way to capitalism. Dobb’s book began a debate among economists and historians that has continued until this day. Dobb thought that feudalism went into decline and was replaced by capitalism because of endogenous causes rooted in the class struggles between serfs and noblemen. An early and prominent critic, Paul M. Sweezy, thought that the factors which led to the decline of feudalism and rise of capitalism were exogenous, and these factors included the development and growth of international trade, production for markets and money, the growth and importance of cities, and the need for European monarchies to unite their kingdoms and to finance their wars and overseas empires. This paper does some preliminary empirical testing of these hypotheses using data from Britain from the 1200s to the 1800s. The findings of this paper are informative in trying to better understand the debate and provide some food for thought on how capitalism may change in the future.

Keywords: capitalism; feudalism; Dobb–Sweezy debate

Capital Accumulation in the Center and Semiperipheries: A Comparative Analysis of the US, Spain, and Brazil

Juan Pablo Mateo

Abstract: This paper presents a comparative analysis of capital accumulation in the US, Spain, and Brazil from 1990 to 2014, in order to analyze the peculiarities of the main contemporary economy (US), a developed one with a peripheral integration into the Eurozone (Spain), and a semiperipheral economy within a backward region (Brazil). This period is highlighted, especially for Spain and Brazil, by a neoliberal turn and certain monetary stability. Taking the US economy as a reference, Brazil achieved a higher average GDP and investment growth, but its capital-output ratio shows a relative high level. This economy also suffers from less capacity to produce a surplus in US dollars, and its productivity gap widens. In the case of Spain, its real-estate speculative boom has driven down both the profit rate and the productive efficiency of capital stock. Thus, while lacking an outstanding performance, the USA has kept its productive superiority in relation to Spain and Brazil.

Keywords: capital accumulation; productivity; profit rate; underdevelopment

Health System in Transition in India: Journey from State Provisioning to Privatization

Shailender Kumar Hooda

Abstract: This paper highlights how privatization in healthcare is being promoted and its further growth facilitated through the adoption of neoliberal policies in India. The approach to financing healthcare has been shifting from public provisioning to tax-funded health insurance merely to achieve health coverage. The idea of the strategic purchasing of care from private providers promoted through insurance seems likely to aggravate the crisis in access and healthcare delivery. Such a crisis will escalate costs and promote concentration and monopolies in the healthcare market. Under the recently promoted neoliberal policy, India is compromising the goal of comprehensive provision of public health services, which is essential for creating a healthier society.

Keywords: neoliberalism in health; health system transition; privatization; health insurance

The Changing Geopolitical Economy of Transcaucasia under Multipolarity

Efe Can Gürcan

Abstract: This article sheds light on the changing character of the Transcaucasian geopolitical economy based on the question of how the multipolarization of world politics has shaped the course of regional conflicts and the balance of forces in the region. In this framework, the article proposes transcending static labels such as Georgia/Azerbaijan as a “Western post,” Iran and Azerbaijan as “arch enemies,” and Armenia as a “traditional Russian ally” by reference to recent developments such as the peaceful rise of China in the region, Putin’s Eurasianist geostrategic leanings, and the reorientation of Turkey’s foreign policy since 2016. Georgian and Armenian color revolution dynamics are likely to be suppressed thanks to the recent foreign policy shift of Turkey as a strategic ally of Georgia, Georgia’s inclusion in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the Russo-Turkish rapprochement. Amidst deteriorating relations with the US and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the 2010s, moreover, Azerbaijan’s foreign policy gives increasingly greater weight to relations with Russia, which can be further deepened under the influence of Turkey’s foreign policy. A similar situation goes for Azerbaijan’s involvement in the Non-Aligned Movement and BRI, as well as Iranian acknowledgment of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity despite unresolved tensions in bilateral relations.

Keywords: foreign policy; geopolitical economy; hegemony; multipolarity; Transcaucasia

How China Succeeded in the Covid-19 Epidemic Prevention and Control

Interview with Associate Professor Leijie Wei, Editor of Waiting for Dawn:  21 Diaries From 16 COVID-19 Frontlines

Leijie Wei and Shuoying Chen

Abstract: The book Waiting for Dawn: 21 Diaries from 16 COVID-19 Frontlines takes a global perspective, examining the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on governments and the public around the world. Associate Professor Leijie Wei, editor of the book, believes that the reasons why mandatory tracking, testing, and quarantine measures have been effectively implemented in China center on the unified leadership provided by the Communist Party of China (CPC), the active response by state-owned enterprises and institutions, and the full trust of the majority of the public in the government’s anti-pandemic measures. In an effort to win elections, meanwhile, politicians in Europe and the United States are politicizing the pandemic and making China a scapegoat. In contrast to socialist China’s policy of ensuring all those in need are hospitalized with free testing and treatment, the essentially capitalist public health models applied in most Western countries have brought more concrete and explicit class conflict, and the drawn-out pandemic in the West has exacerbated various forms of social injustice. The COVID-19 epidemic is a reminder that a country’s governance ability should not be judged on the basis of simplistic conceptions of democracy, and that the needs of Mother Earth must be considered in the collective building of a community of shared future for humankind.

Keywords: COVID-19; epidemic; pandemic; socialist China

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The Great Contribution of Engels to Capital

Jianping Li and Zhenhuang Yang

Abstract: Marx and Engels were close confidants and had the same beliefs and aspirations. Both of them devoted a great deal of effort to Capital. Although Engels did not claim co-authorship of Capital, he was a genuine collaborator in ensuring it would appear, making major contributions to its creation and publication. Together with Marx, he helped lay the foundations for Capital in the 1840s, establishing the basic elements of practice, method, and politics that would bring the work into being. From the 1850s to 1867 he devoted enormous energies to supporting the creation of Capital. During the 1870s he worked to promote Capital, and from 1883 to 1894 he toiled at preparing the final two volumes for publication. All in all, Engels was a legendary writer who devoted himself to Capital over a period of half a century.

Keywords: Marx; Engels; Capital

 

Linkages between Economic and Military Imperialism

Isaac Christiansen

Abstract: Much has been written both about economic and military manifestations of empire, but there are fewer examinations of how the two are interconnected. This article explores five forms of linking motivations by which economic imperialism escalates into military interventions: resource covetous, enterprise-specific, system protective, empire share, and military-industrialist linkages. The first three types describe how imperial relations between empires and client states may lead military interventions in the latter by the former to ensure control of critical resources, corporate dominance of a client state’s land or industry, or to safeguard global capitalism itself. Empire share linkages are reflected when conflict among imperialist countries themselves develops into wars among core countries, while military-industrial linkages are when the interests of the arms and related industries themselves become a motivation for military interventions. These connections are not mutually exclusive, and each may be manifested to a lesser or greater degree in various imperialist interventions simultaneously.

Keywords: economic imperialism; military imperialism; military spending

 

Politics, Power, Policy, and a Fair Society: The Failed Promise of the Asian Medicine Market

Malay Roy

Abstract: Asymmetry in knowledge and bargaining power creates opportunities for duplicity and malpractice. Based on the experiences of the Asian medicine market, we propose that this economic sector is particularly susceptible to these vices. The visible hand of the government appears to be more effective in disciplining malefactors than the invisible hand of the market. This thesis is based on areas of knowledge such as political science, ethics, and philosophy that remain, in general, off limits to economists wishing to maintain the purity of the discipline.

Keywords: Asia; politics; policy; medicine; exclusion; welfare

 

Labor Productivity and Marxist Theory of Labor Value

Alejandro Valle Baeza and Blanca Gloria Martínez González

Abstract: This article proves that the productivity defined rigorously within the Marxist theory of value is what economists use most of the time. When analyzing the changes in productivity of a country or the relationship between real wages and productivity or comparing the levels of productivity between countries, labor productivity is used and not, for example, multifactor productivity. In all three previous cases what legitimizes the use of labor productivity is the Marxist theory of value. We will see in the present article that, if productivity is defined as the reciprocal of the value of a basket of merchandises, the mathematical expressions commonly used in applied economics are deduced to understand the variations and levels of productivity and the link between that variable and the real wage. Since most non-Marxist economists reject Marxian theory of value, we conclude that, nonetheless, they use it without knowing it.

Keywords: labor productivity; labor value; international wages; real wages

 

Classical Labor Values: Properties of Economic Reproduction

David Zachariah and Paul Cockshott

Abstract: We consider economic value as a property that renders heterogeneous goods and services commensurable. Starting from the basic division of output between workers and non-workers, we are able to derive value as a property of systems of economic reproduction. We show its relation to value in classical political economy and in Sraffian economic theory. We go on to discuss the applicability of the derivation and its relevance for analyzing distribution, productivity and employment in a wide range of economies.

Keywords: value; labour value; prices of production

 

Clinging to the Relics for Support: Capitalism and the NationReview of The Sublime Perversion of Capital: Marxist Theory and the Politics  of History in Modern Japan by Gavin Walker

Michael Keaney

Abstract: Observing the apparently anomalous retention of pre-capitalist forms amid rapid economic transformation, Marxists in early 20th-century Japan grappled with the theoretical challenges posed by a set of practices that did not adhere to the presumed teleology of capitalist development. In response, they proposed a sophisticated treatment of nationalism as an essential (but inherently temporary) stabilizing feature of capitalism, requiring constant reinvention as part of capitalism’s fundamentally unstable and contradictory growth process. The validity of this treatment can be witnessed today with respect to populist backlashes in Europe and North America, and strident nationalist and even genocidal state policies in South Asia, amid a general stalling of the neoliberal globalization project that has increasingly been seen to fail in the unfolding aftermath of the global financial crisis of 2007–2009.

Keywords: nationalism; development; the state; capitalism

 

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The Change of the US Tariff Policy

Engels’s Perspective and Enlightenment

Baoyi Wu and Shanlin Wu

Abstract: Engels discussed tariff and the related issues on many occasions in his writings. Using “tariff” as the keyword, we search all the 50 volumes of Marx and Engels Collected Works and find out two important stages in which Engels formulated intensively tariff and related issues. The first one is 1845–1853, when Engels mainly elaborated from the perspective of the impact of tariffs on the interests of various classes in the European nations, and the second one is 1879–1893, when he mainly elaborated from the perspective of the relation between tariff policies and the stage of economic development in the United States and the roles played by the tariff policies in the national competition. At the second stage, standing at the height of world history and starting from competition and evolution, Engels made a comprehensive and in-depth illustration of the changes in the US tariff policies and their roles; at this stage, he recognized to a certain extent some of List’s thoughts on tariff, which is not in conflict with his criticism of List at the first stage. The essence of Engels’s thoughts on tariffs is the multi-level investigation based on his profound historical insight and grand global vision. Engels’s thoughts of the political economy formulated on the development and evolution of the tariff policies and their roles and mechanisms after the US Civil War are still of great practical significance even for nowadays.

Key words: Engels; the United States; tariff policies; national competition; political economy

Chinese Revolution and Development of the World Economy

Pertti Honkanen

Abstract: This paper considers China’s economic development and place in the world economy. The People’s Republic of China is becoming the most powerful country in the world in terms of GDP. Nowadays, China is an important partner in world trade both as an exporter and importer. Thus far, the United States has been the leading force in managing and coordinating the global economic and especially financial system, but now the economically advancing socialist China is a challenge to the USA. The Chinese model, socialism with Chinese characteristics, is discussed and compared with earlier stages of socialist construction, e.g. the NEP experiment of Soviet Union. The paper ends with notes about environmental and ecological problems, stressing the importance of socialist answers to these challenges. In this regard there are encouraging aspects in the current political program of the Chinese leadership.

Key words: China; economic growth; international trade; models of socialism; ecological problems

 

Will China Suffer the Same Fate as the Soviet Union?

Carlos Martinez

Abstract: It was widely assumed in the West following the collapse of European socialism that China would undergo a similar process of counter-revolution. This article seeks to understand why, three decades later, this hasn’t happened, and whether it is likely to happen in the foreseeable future. The article contrasts China’s “reform and opening up” process, pursued since 1978, with the “perestroika” and “glasnost” policies taken up in the Soviet Union under the Gorbachev leadership. A close analysis of the available data makes it clear that China’s reform has been far more successful than the Soviet reform; that, in contrast to the Soviet Union in the 1980s, all the key quality of life indicators in China have undergone significant improvement in the last 40 years, and China is emerging as a global leader in science, technological innovation and environmental preservation. The article argues that the disparate outcomes in China and the Soviet Union are the result primarily of the far more effective economic strategy pursued by the Chinese government, along with the continued strengthening of the Communist Party of China’s leadership.

Key words: China; Soviet Union; socialism; reform

 

China–Africa Economic and Trade Cooperation from the Perspective of the Community with Shared Benefits: Achievements, Challenges, and Prospects

Xiaoqin Ding, Qiaoyan Chai, and Cheng Chen

Abstract: The China–Africa Community with Shared Benefits is the cornerstone of the China-Africa Community with Shared Future. Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, through economic and trade cooperation, China and Africa have promoted the common economic and social development of both sides, and consolidated the material foundation of the China–Africa Community with Shared Benefits. The economic and trade cooperation between China and Africa has developed rapidly with remarkable achievements and great influence. This article fully affirms and reviews the great achievements of China–Africa trade and economic cooperation, points out that the China–Africa economic and trade cooperation still faces some challenges, but overall, the China–Africa economic and trade cooperation has an absolutely bright future and will become a persistence engine to build the Community with Shared Benefits. China’s investment will further promote economic and social development in Africa, and the China–Africa Community with Shared Benefits will have a huge demonstration effect internationally.

Key words: China–Africa relationship; the Community with Shared Benefits; China–Africa economic and trade cooperation

 

Reconsidering Development Aid: A Systemic Analysis

Yahya Gülseven

Abstract: In the political and academic debates on development aid in the post-Cold War years, there is often reference to a “new aid architecture.” This study explores what is new about this “new architecture of aid” and traces change and continuity by comparing the form and essence of aid architecture in the Cold War and the post-Cold War years. It discusses to what extent development aid can be interrogated within the inter-systemic competition during the Cold War period. After having located aid into a systemic framework, it seeks to understand the emergence of the “new aid architecture” in the post-Cold War years. To this end, it first analyses the relevance of aid to the hegemonic project that pursues the proletarianization of the world’s poor. It then focuses on aid’s role in transforming social and industrial relations to promote capitalist competitiveness at the global level. In this respect, it pays particular attention to “global value chains.” This study argues that “new aid architecture” is nothing more than an attempt to set a new framework for the role and contribution of aid in expanding and deepening the hegemony of capital over labor on a global scale in the absence of the Soviet factor.

Key words: development aid; OECD-DAC; aid architecture; the Marshall Plan; proletarianization; global value chains

 

Financialization, Economic Structure Change, and the USA-China Trade War

Wanhuan Cai

Abstract: Under conditions of financialization, finance capital develops relatively independently from the real economy of the United States. As a result, the United States has to rely heavily on external markets to buy consumer goods. The huge trade deficit of the United States stems from its own economic structure rather than external reasons. The trade deficit does not mean that the United States is in a disadvantageous position. From the perspective of the goods trade, service trade, and finance capital investment, the United States is in a position of absolute dominance with its service sector and profit from foreign investment. The launching of the USA–China trade war was a manifestation of Trump’s protectionism. It has failed. It is hoped that the Biden administration will demonstrate learning from this mistake.

Key words: financialization; protectionism; trade deficit; real economy

 

Review of Classical Political Economics and Modern Capitalism: Theories of Value, Competition, Trade and Long Cycles by Lefteris Tsoulfidis and Persefoni Tsaliki

Ozan Mutlu

Abstract: This book review presents and critically evaluates core issues raised in the recently published book titled: Classical Political Economics and Modern Capitalism: Theories of Value, Competition, Trade and Long Cycles coauthored by Lefteris Tsoulfidis and Persefoni Tsaliki. The book under review is one of the very few efforts to comprehensively cover major topics of the classical political economics approach. Among these topics included are the following: the theory of value, economic reproduction, and true competition in domestic and international markets as well as long economic cycles in the movement of key economic variables. A salient feature of the book is that the “laws of motion” of modern capitalism are derived and supported by empirical evidence based on refined economic data and appropriate input–output or econometric analysis. The overall evaluation is at the end of the present review along with a critical account for further research efforts.

Key words: political economics; theories of value; competition; long cycles

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The Contribution of the “School of New Marxist Economics” to China’s Socialist Market Economy

Yang Zhang

Abstract: Since China’s reform and opening up four decades ago, the establishment and healthy development of the socialist market economy has been closely linked to the forward-looking theoretical analysis and policy suggestions given by representatives from the School of New Marxist Economics. By comparative analysis of a variety of cited literature, the author argues that the School of New Marxist Economics scholars Guoguang Liu, Enfu Cheng, and Zuyao Yu, have made an outstanding contribution not only to the construction of the socialist market economy theory and socialist political economy with Chinese characteristics academically, but also to the comprehensive deepening of reform and the strengthening of technology power building in practice.

Key words: socialist market economy; “Chinese School” of socialist market economy; School of New Marxist Economics in China

 

A General Theory of Value and Money

Foundations of an Axiomatic Theory

Alan Freeman

 

Abstract: This article is the first part of “A General Theory of Value and Money” and sets out the foundations of an axiomatic theory of value and money. Its purpose is to equip the public to explain the four facts that define the modern capitalist economy: the long-term post-war decline of the economies of the global North, the financial instability which produced the 2008 crash, the prolonged post-war growth in inequality between the global North and the global South, and the exceptional 30-year growth of China. The axiomatic method is poorly understood among economists. It allows us to interrogate empirical evidence in a systematic way, and is therefore the necessary precondition for an inductivist, scientific enquiry into economic events, that is, an enquiry whose starting point is the explanation of facts. The second part of “A General Theory of Value and Money,” to follow, deals with the empirical conclusions, especially the analysis of accumulation, the rate of profit, and financial crashes.

Key words: value; finance; crisis; TSSI

 

The State and Accumulation Under Contemporary Capitalism

Paramjit Singh and Balwinder Singh Tiwana

Abstract: The classical and neo-classical economists present capitalism as a self-regulating and self-sustaining system. A system works on Say’s law of market or Walrasian general equilibrium lines where market device works so efficiently that there are no possibilities of instability. The full utilization of available resources keeps the economy on a steady state growth path. However, Marxian and Keynesian economists do not believe in this idealistic interpretation of the working of capitalist economic system. They argue that cyclical instability is a fundamental tendency of capitalist economic structure. Historically, it has been proven that the capitalist system, from its very inception, has required state intervention, not only in its external relations but also in its internal functioning. The stability of capitalism depends upon the stability of capital accumulation which in turn depends upon state facilitation and direct state intervention in the economic affairs. In the light of these facts, the present paper makes an attempt to scrutinize the role of state in the accumulation process, which has evolved with the evolution of social classes and has been dominating economic and social affairs in accordance with the needs of the dominant class.

Key words: capitalism; state; accumulation; stability; Keynesianism; financialization

 

Class, Demography, and
Gay Politics in the West

Paul Cockshott

Abstract: We examine the economic position of gay couples and show that they are relatively advantaged compared to heterosexual ones, with this advantage being most marked for male same-sex couples. We argue that the issue of gay marriage has to be seen in the context of a general demographic crisis affecting Western capitalist countries. We look at the impact of this on profitability and growth.

Key words: class; gay economics; demographics

 

The Ecological Crisis,
Apocalypticism, and the Internalization of Unfreedom

Saladdin Ahmed

Abstract: Responses to the definitive evidence that the existing order of things will inevitably lead to an ecological doomsday often take one of two approaches, not counting outright deniers of climate change. The more optimistic of the two assumes that we could regain a reasonable balance of life on Earth through individual lifestyle adjustments. The second dominant approach is pessimistic to the degree of embracing apocalypticism, for it assumes the ecological catastrophe is altogether unavoidable. In either case, the capitalist system is perceived as the only possible order of things and goes unquestioned. Refuting both positions, I argue that the impending ecological catastrophe could only be avoided if collective progressive action puts an end to the capitalist modes of production. In the absence of universal movements grounded in revolutionary ecological politics, capitalism will continue to thrive not despite but because of the escalating ecological crisis. As climate change continues to make life conditions in the global south more difficult, cheap labour will become even more readily exploitable, just as the fundamental elements of life, such as clean water and air, will be increasingly commodified as they become scarcer. Unless sustained revolutionary action is undertaken to topple the capitalist relations of production, the ecological crisis will only bring about more suffering for the poor and greater benefits for the rich. The notion that small-scale changes in behaviour could reverse these trends under such circumstances is absurd, but that is not to say we should nihilistically succumb to our fate.

Key words: ecological crisis; capitalism; apocalypticism; Marx; Adorno

 

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