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A Review of Panitch and Gindin: Political Economy of American Empire (Book Review Sample)


give a Review of Panitch and Gindin on the Political Economy of American Empire


A Review of Panitch and Gindin: Political Economy of American Empire
Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin’s arguments about the political economy of the American empire.
Marxist’s ideologies on capitalism centres the writings of Panitch and Gindin as they discuss on imperialism and the political economy of America. Since the WWII, the US has predominantly defended the global capital interests which have resulted in its making of the global capitalism. Thus, an imperial renaissance has taken over the world due to the global primacy of America. Panitch and Gindin present the rising of the American state in developing the capacity to superintend the initiation of global capitalism. The convergence between economic and geopolitical competition among states gave rise to modern imperialism. Therefore, this paper analyses the political economy of America as discussed by Panitch and Gindin. In the analysis, the essay looks at the strengths and shortcoming of the authors’ arguments on the American empire’s political economy.
The end of WWII gave rise to the internalization of many states that saw the US use Cold War alliance system to construct global capitalist. Informal American empire existed through an integrative use of financial mechanisms (World Bank, WTO, IMF) with political and military coercion. The US continued to rise in the financial market and signed several agreements that would increase America’s private investment. For instance, it signed the Marshall Plan as a way of endorsing European states as capitalist nations (Panitch and Gindin 2012, p. 112). Moreover, the authors contend that the inevitable result of expansionist economic and state agency led to the spread of capitalist values, markets and social relationships. Having less concern for the US’s imperialistic occupations and wars, Gindin and Panitch indicates how the Treasury Department bore and implemented economic policies for global integration.
Further, the launching of the World Bank, WTO and IMF at Bretton Woods Conference after WWII escalated the development of new imperialism system. Hence, the decline of Europe’s formal empire and the defeat of Soviet Union resulting in the internationalization of US capitalism across the globe (Anderson 2013, p. 111). For instance, Canada grew to be a ‘rich dependent’ country. The same transformation took root in other parts such as South Korea. The US’s strategy aimed at containing the power of the Soviet Union and the rise of communistic ideologies. In doing so, America laid the foundation for growth (40 percent) in the international trade through to the end of the 1960s. Modernization theory stipulates that the uneven development of the third world nations and the western society granted privileged developmental status to the US. Unfortunately, the 1970s US economic crisis affected this boom but somehow gave way for the renewal of US’s imperialist impulse (p. 112). Technological adjustments and refocus to intensive industrialization and financial sector of America became key to its growth in the following years. Structural modifications programs in the main areas such as property rights, foreign direct investment, deregulation, public expenditure and privatization were vital to debt management. Despite the financial crisis, Panitch and Gindin stipulate that the US empire remained the superpower and consolidated global capitalism.
Panitch and Gindin offer clear insights into the rise of capitalism and global imperialism in the world through the analysis of America’s political and economic sectors from the early twentieth century. Fundamental to their argument is that capital is a predominantly national rather than a global aspect of the global political economy. Consequently, America’s central part in global capitalism making was intertwined with its increased predominance in the international market by its corporations (Hudson 2003). Marx through his capitalism theory indicates that the forces of production set the stage for relations of production. The property relations give rise to social stratification and social evolution of nations.
In fact, Rostow in his ‘Stages of Economic Growth’ states that there exist the traditional society where revolution takes place before proceeding to the other stages. The other steps include the preconditioning stage, take off, maturity and the age of mass consumption for a nation to experience economic growth. The class with the means of production becomes the dominant intellectual force. Marx believed that the. The government, industrial systems, educational systems and religion were tools used by the powerful to uphold the status quo (Elwell 2013). Similarly, the modernization theory attests that a centralized national state is essential for take-off. Therefore, a stable federal government arises with integrative concepts of the military, intellectual and technological capabilities. Thus, the establishment of an elite entrepreneurial class that directs investment to private sectors while promoting new techniques of production and resource extraction. Evidently, America was moving in this direction of industrialization and becoming a central state to the world states leading to Panitch and Gindin framing it an empire of capitalism. Capitalism has resulted in increased unequal exchange between the developed and the third world countries leading to the dependency syndrome. The Making of Global Capitalism indicates that the US outspends its rivals (2005: 119).
Further, Bukharin’s perspective on imperialism and world economy enhance Panitch and Gindin’s view on America’s political economy. According to Bukharin, the international division of labour resulted in monopolistic surplus profits. It serves the capitalistic and imperialistic aspects of America during the recession period of the 1970s (Bukharin 2009, p. 80-84). Additionally, the rivalry over geopolitical hegemony among monopoly capitalistic states enhanced the growth of America towards becoming a super power through foreign investments. America curbed the rising of any rival state based on military weapons, nuclear energy and in economic terms. For instance, its destabilized countries linked to China and the USSR and intervened in the primary regional wars in Vietnam and Korea.
In spite of the decline in US’s global GDP share in the 1970s, Panitch and Gindin argue that America remained a reviving economy to other capitalistic economies like Europe and Japan. They clearly present how trade deficit is not a measure of America’s productive power of capital (Panitch and Gindin 2005). However, trade deficit indicates US’ s position in global capitalism. Presently, US still reigns as a super power with a broad base of financial, technological and military prowess compared to other countries. Any rising nation to compete with it such as China becomes a threat to US’s imperialistic endeavours and looks for ways to contain it. Technological leadership of America has become the commanding height of the world’s capitalistic states (Petras and Veltmeyer 2001). Panitch and Gindin do highlight that high-tech sectors have revolutionized the trend to global accumulation which has enabled America to lead in the global economy. Thus, the effective argumentative criteria of the authors on the American empire. Significantly, being in possession of the world power across almost all sectors gives that nation the ruling mandate over the globe. Henceforth, America has deployed monopoly capitalism that equates to imperialism to have a sustainable political economy (Prasad 2014, p. 107).
Panitch and Gindin (2012: 115) connotes that the superintending by the US state gave rise to the current era of development bias to capitalism. Mostly, minimal levels of communism and socialism exist in the world today. Every nation aimed at becoming developed as per the set global standards and measures relative to the world’s capitalistic states. For instance, the slight rise to power by the communists in Spain around 1933 -1939 draw the attention of many developed states. The concern was against the increase of communism as advocated by the ruling communist party. Germany and several countries supported the nationalist to withdraw such ruling (Slater 2008). Moreover, the authors describe how national bourgeoisie had forged ties with America thus, becoming integrated into the hegemony of American imperialism ‘Canadianized.' On the other hand, America’s foreign direct investment affected state formations and class structures of other countries (Hudson 2003).
In spite of the insightful thoughts Panitch and Gindin offer in the superintending of the global capital literature, their views are not without criticism and weaknesses. For instance, they lack a clear explanation of the term empire and other significant terminologies like globalization, the state, and global capitalism that inform their study. They presume such terms as not problematic which is never the case to many commentators and critics. Consequently, the argument focuses on relating US empire as an empire in the global capital. It comes out from the study that the US facilitated the existence of a global empire and its immense role in global economy gave rise to it being renowned as a superpower. Furthermore, America’s military intervention and fiscal expansion strategies were n...
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