\ Political Economy of International Crisis

Political Economy of International Crisis

Economics 357L

Section I


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.

Background reading: *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 them. Read *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.

1. Analysis of the Crisis from the top down

*Richard Cooper, "The Dollar and the World Economy," Agenda For The Nation(Brookings, 1968) Available through ERes. (Student Summary)

IMF logo If you are not familiar with the workings of the International Monetary Fund you should consult the Fund's own self description. "A Global Institution: The IMF's Role at a Glance"

*Harold VanBuren Cleveland, "How the Dollar Standard Died," Foreign Policy, #5 (Winter, 1971-72). Available through ERes (Student Summary)
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.

thumbnail of the cover of the book The Crisis of Democracy *Samuel P. Huntington, "The United States," The Crisis of Democracy, 1975. Available through ERes, (Student Summary)
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

Photo of four black students sitting-in at lunch counter Jim Schlosser, "The Story of the Greensboro Sit-ins," that took place in 1960. (1998).

Brief Sketch of History of SNCC, the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee. See also the brief sketch of the issues SNCC was involved in.

Mississippi cops pushing MLK back during March Against Fear in 1966 Martin Luther King, Letter from a Birmingham Jail, 1963.

The image of an 
advancing black panther that was the logo of the Black Panther Party Black Panthers, Black Panther Party Platform and Program, October 1966

Cover of first issue of the journal Zerowork, black 
and white lettering on orange background *Paolo Carpignano, "U.S. Class Composition in the Sixties," Zerowork, #1, 1975.

The Crisis in the Schools

SDS button that 
says Stop the War & Racism, Washington, D.C., Jan 20 SDS, The Port Huron Statement, 1962.

picture of Free Speech Movement Button that says FREE SPEECH, FSM Committee of Graduate Political Scientists, The Berkeley Free Speech Controversy, December 1964.

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.

Cover of the first issue of the journal Zerowork, black 
and white lettering on orange background *George Caffentzis, "Throwing Away the Ladder," Zerowork #1, 1975.

The International Circulation of Crisis

Cover of the first issue of the journal Zerowork, black and white lettering on
 orange background *Mario Montano, "Notes on the International Crisis," Zerowork #1, 1975. This article is reprinted in Midnight Notes Collective, Midnight Oil: Work, Energy, War, 1973-1992, Brooklyn: Autonomedia, 1992, pp. 115-142.