Political Economy of International Crisis
Political Economy of International Crisis
THE RISE AND FALL OF THE KEYNESIAN ERA (1944-1971)
This section begins with a series of lectures on basic
aspects of the post-WWII international economic order: the social
factory, growth and capital accumulation within national economies
and on a world scale; international linkages among national
economies (trade, capital and labor flows); international monetary
system of Bretton Woods and its system of fixed exchange rates.
*Part I of my essay "The Rise and Fall
of the Keynesian State," plus a review of any chapters in any
introductory or intermediate text you find necessary to understand
this essay. (The first part
of Richard Cooper's article below also contains a useful brief
survey of the international monetary system operative in the
Keynesian period.) You will find
a careful reading of this essay extremely useful as a guide to the
kinds of materials we will be covering and the kinds of background
you need to have to get the most from the materials of the course.
These initial lectures will be followed by others on the
breakdown of the international monetary system through chronic
balance of payments disequilibrium and the failure of adjustment
mechanisms, with some discussion of the national economic problems
underlying the international collapse. We will then turn to the
heart of the kind of analysis on which this course is based:
an examination of the socio-political roots of these macroeconomic
phenomena. The object is to learn how to read through the
"economic" crisis to discover the social and political conflicts
which underlie both the various crises and the attempts to resolve
*Part II of my essay "The Rise and Fall of the
Keynesian State." The last section of this part gives an overview
of several other sections of the course.
The other readings for this section, listed below, primarily concern the forces at work in the period during which the Keynesian era was pitched into crisis. The first section provides analyses of those forces by mainstream economists and political scientists. The second section provides parallel analyses by their radical critics, often activists whose actions contributed to the crisis being discussed.
NB1: When the title of an article is obviously hyperlinked, the link is either to an online version of the article itself or to a summary of the article prepared by a student in the class in the Spring of 2002. While graded at the time, these summaries have not been corrected or edited by the professor. Some are quite good; some are quite poor. They have been left here for your use if you see fit - perhaps you can compare your own summaries of assigned materials with them. If you substitute reading a summary for reading an assigned article you not only shortchanging yourself, but risk getting a distorted impression of the original. Reader beware.
NB2: At a minimum, read those materials prefaced by an asterisk. Those
will be scanned in and uploaded by me, or by you or someone else
in the class.
NB3: If you have problems reading pdf files, Adobe Acrobat has various,
more or less competent,
converter programs that will convert pdf files into html files.
1. Analysis of the Crisis from the top down
"The Dollar and the World Economy,"
Agenda For The Nation(Brookings, 1968) Available through
Article typical of the period before complete breakdown
which analyses the old international system and its growing
instability and examines various policy recommendations that had
been made to correct those problems - including the piecemeal measures that
had actually been undertaken and the broader proposals for the reorientation of
US monetary and fiscal policies and for systemtic changes that
had been proposed, such as a collective global shift to flexible
exchange rates or sliding parties. Cooper was professor at
Yale and government advisor, then, in the early 1970s, the US contributor to the Trilateral
Commission's report on international monetary policy (see the
bibliography for the section of this course on the international
monetary crisis) and from 1977-81 Undersecretary of State on Economic
Affairs. More recently he has also been Chair of the
Intelligence Council (1995-97) He is now professor at Harvard.
If you are not familiar with the workings of the International
you should consult the Fund's own self description.
Institution: The IMF's Role at a Glance"
The role of the Fund has changed somewhat since the switch in the early 1970s from fixed
exchange rates to floating exchange rates, and the page gives you a brief
description of those changes. But the basic role, of coordinating and
enforcing the international monetary rules of the game is still the
*Harold VanBuren Cleveland,
"How the Dollar Standard Died,"
Foreign Policy, #5 (Winter, 1971-72). Available through
*Samuel P. Huntington,
"The United States," The Crisis of Democracy, 1975. Available
- Like it says. Early reaction and analysis of 1971
collapse which brings in political factors. By a vice president of
First National City Bank and a member of the CFR.
- In this essay, one of three written for the Trilateral Commission,
Huntington provides an analysis that goes to the national roots of the
international crisis. He examines the political economic crisis in United
States that underlay its inability to continue with fixed exchange rates
- although he is not concerned with the national - international linkages.
He concludes, in an opinion that was highly controversial at the time
-even among elites, that the problem was too much democracy.
2. Analysis of the Crisis from the bottom up
The Crisis in the Streets
Jim Schlosser, "The Story of the
Greensboro Sit-ins," that took place in 1960. (1998).
A short restrospective on the student lunch-counter sit-ins that many credit
with triggering the black civil rights movement, includes some audio interviews
with principles involved. Sit-ins led to creation of the Student Non-violent
Brief Sketch of History of SNCC, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee.
See also the brief sketch of the issues
SNCC was involved in.
Brief introductions to the organization born in the aftermath of the Greensboro
Sit-ins that went on to play important roles in the development of the civil rights
movement and would gestate later struggles including black power and the
anti-Vietnam war movements. You would do well to explore the materials available
at both of these sites.
Martin Luther King,
Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963.
A key document in which Martin Luther King lays out, for the edification of
skeptical clergymen, his reasons for embracing non-violent civil disobedience
including sit-ins, demonstrations, marches, boycotts, and so on.
Black Panther Party Platform and Program, October 1966
From Civil Rights movement to black nationalism and black militance the
revolt in the streets became more radical as the sixties progressed. The Panthers,
like the Civil Rights activists they followed would have considerable influence
on university campuses as well as in their neighborhoods.
*Paolo Carpignano, "U.S. Class Composition in the
Sixties," Zerowork, #1, 1975.
A radical overview of the breakdown of accumulation
strategies of business in the 1960s in both factory and community:
the revolt against work and social control which the Trilateral
Commission's book The Crisis of Democracy called an "excess
of democracy." Zerowork was a radical journal, published
briefly in the mid-1970s to provide a new analysis of the crisis
-one different from those then current among mainstream critics.
Summary of article.
The Crisis in the Schools
The Port Huron Statement, 1962.
This was the original statement/manifesto of the SDS, the Students for a
Democratic Society, a loosely knit organization that was primarily local in
nature and was often the early vehicle for student mobilization on hundreds
of campuses. It also mostly disolved into the movement organizations it catalyzed.
Committee of Graduate Political Scientists,
The Berkeley Free Speech Controversy, December 1964.
This is a report on the free speech movement at Berkeley by students on
the scene at the time. It provides both a chronology of events and detailed
analysis of student demands, administration responses, and so on. You should
take a look at the other materials gathered at this
site devoted to the history of the FSM.
Anne Bauer and Harry Cleaver,
"Student Minority Report on the Stanford Research Institute, 1969.
This is the key analytical and historical section of a report written by two
Stanford students, appointed by the president of the university to a special
committee to study the activities of the Stanford Research Institute that
stood accused of engaging in research of direct aid to US
counterinsurgency efforts in Indochina. It is typical of the
kind of investigative research done by students contesting the role of their
universities or colleges in the prosecution of the Vietnam War. It not only
explores that role but ties it to other capitalist strategies, elsewhere,
including the relationship between universities and industry more generally. This
excerpt, with accompanying notes from the editor, was published in Charles Perrow, The
Radical Attack on Business: A Critical Analysis, New York: Harcourt Brace Javanovich,
Inc., 1972, pp. 136-152.
"Throwing Away the Ladder," Zerowork
This is an analysis of the general crisis of the educational system brought
on by student struggles of the 1960s. It argues that those struggles - mainly at
the university level - undermined the transformation of students into
labor power. This amounted to a collapse of business' human capital strategy
that had been in effect through much of the Keynesian period.
The International Circulation of Crisis
*Mario Montano, "Notes on the International
Zerowork #1, 1975. This article is reprinted in Midnight
Notes Collective, Midnight Oil: Work, Energy, War, 1973-1992,
Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1992, pp. 115-142.
Overview of international crisis interpreted as a breakdown
in capitalist control due to an international cycle of working class
struggle. Difficult article to read. Reread with various parts of
course -- compare with The Crisis of Democracy material which
is elite variation of same interpretation.