American Capitalism, Global Crisis is a genealogy of the emergence of a finance-ridden, authoritarian, undemocratic American capitalism, from industrialisation to the present day. By providing a panoramic political-economic history of the country, it surveys the ruthlessly competitive capitalism of the nineteenth century, the maturation of industrial capitalism in the twenties, the rise and fall of capitalism’s Golden Age and the ensuing decline towards the modern era. Alan Nasser shows why the emergence of the persistent austerity of financialised neoliberal capitalism is the natural outcome of mature capitalism’s evolution.
It demonstrates that the nation’s historic trajectory was marked by a succession of turning-point crises and key political-economic responses to them. This developmental pattern reveals both the key structural and political vulnerabilities of capitalism itself and points towards the kind of political-economic system that can transcend it. At the centre of the argument, capitalism ultimately presents us with two alternatives, either a "new normal" of persistent austerity, declining democracy and a privatised state, or a polity and economy characterized by economic democracy that can ensure both higher wages and a shorter working week.
A result of a lifetime’s research, this book will make an important contribution to the literature on the roots of the economic crisis and the democratic possibilities it opens up.
This book traces the origins of the current economic crisis, explains its emergence as a consequence of the rejection of Keynesian social democracy and 30 subsequent years of neoliberalism, details its precise nature, and projects its significance for the future of the US working population.
Nasser argues that in the absence of organised popular resistance, the future of mature, industrial capitalism portends persistent austerity and increasingly authoritarian government for the working population. He charts the development of US capitalism since 1823, from the 19th-century system of fratricidal competition to the current post-New-Deal, post-Great-Society neoliberal financialised regime, characterised by lowered expectations and persistent austerity for a debt-indentured working class.
The argument is developed as a historical narrative, going back to the beginnings of American capitalism. The current crisis is the most recent moment in a series of landmark crises and responses to crisis whose causal origins reveal the key structural and political vulnerabilities of capitalism and whose outcomes have been decisive in shaping the countours of post-crisis capitalism. The succession of these crises and responses cumulatively shaped the relevant features of the present moment.
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