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In and Out of Crisis

 

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Leo Victor Panitch
(BA Manitoba, MA & PhD London School of Economics) is the Senior Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy and Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University, Toronto, and the co-editor of the internationally renowned annual volume, The Socialist Register. His many books American Empire and the Political Economy of Global Finance, (Palgrave Macmillan 2009); Renewing Socialism: Transforming Democracy, Strategy and Imagination (Merlin 2008); Global Capitalism and American Empire (Merlin, 2004); From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms (Garamond 2003); The End of Parliamentary Socialism (Verso 2001); A Different Kind of State? Popular Power and Democratic Administration (Oxford University Press 1992); Working Class Politics in Crisis (Verso 1986), The Canadian State: Political Economy and Political Power (University of Toronto Press 1977); and Social Democracy and Industrial Militancy (Cambridge University Press 1976). In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada for "the wide ranging impact of his published scholarship," including "his theoretical argument about the limitations of corporatism and for his contribution to the development of the theory of the state in capitalist societies." He is now completing a major book with his co-author Sam Gindin on The Making of Global Capitalism. Foreign Policy magazine (May/June 2009) featured his essay "Thoroughly Modern Marx" on its front cover.

Sam Gindin was born in Siberia, grew up in Winnipeg, went to graduate  school in Madison, Wisconsin  and spent most of his working life in Toronto as Research Director, then Assistant to the President, of the Canadian Autoworkers-CAW. Since his retirement from the union in 2000, he has been the Visiting Packer Chair in Social Justice at York University. He remains active in the labour and social movements as a member of the Socialist Project and the recently-formed GreaterToronto Workers’ Assembly. His writings have focused on the CAW, the auto industry, the crisis in organized labor in Canada and the US, and the political economy of American capitalism. He is currently working on a book with his life-long friend and frequent co-author, Leo Panitch, on the making of global capitalism.

Greg Albo teaches political economy at the  Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto. He is currently co-editor of the Socialist Register. He is also on the on the editorial boards of Studies in Political Economy, Relay, Capitalism, Nature, Socialism, Canadian Dimension, The Bullet and Historical Materialism (England). Co-editor of A Different Kind of State: Popular Power and Democratic Administration and author of numerous articles in journals such as Studies in Political Economy, Socialist Register, Canadian Dimension, and Monthly Review. Professor Albo is also on the executive of the Centre for Social Justice in Toronto. He has lectured in universities across Canada, and also in the US, Columbia, Cuba, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Italy, Britain, Austria, Germany and elsewhere. Professor Albo’s research interests are the political economy of contemporary capitalism, labour market policies in Canada, and democratization. He teaches courses on the foundations of political economy, Canadian political economy, alternatives to capitalism, and democratic administration. 

Several websites have become integral to the daily assessment of events from a socialist perspective in North America. They are a source of ongoing commentary and an alternative to the economic analysis of the mainstream media. For a list of recommended websites and journals from the authors, please click here.

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In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives
By Leo Panitch, Sam Gindin, and Greg Albo
Publisher: PM Press/Spectre
ISBN: 978-1-60486-212-6
Release Date: May 2010
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 144
Dimensions: 5.5 by 8.5
Subjects: Politics, Activism, Economics

$13.95

Our world is in the grips of the most calamitous economic crisis since the Great Depression—and its epicenter is the imperial United States, where hallowed investment banks have disappeared overnight, giants of industry have gone bankrupt, and the financial order has been shaken to the core. 


While many around the globe are increasingly wondering if another world is indeed possible, few are mapping out potential avenues—and flagging wrong turns—en route to a post-capitalist future. In this groundbreaking analysis of the meltdown, renowned radical political economists Albo, Gindin and Panitch lay bare the roots of the crisis, which they locate in the dynamic expansion of capital on a global scale over the last quarter century—and in the inner logic of capitalism itself.  

With an unparalleled understanding of the inner workings of capitalism, the authors of In and Out of Crisis provocatively challenge the call by much of the Left for a return to a largely mythical Golden Age of economic regulation as a check on finance capital unbound. They deftly illuminate how the era of neoliberal free markets has been, in practice, undergirded by state intervention on a massive scale. With clarity and erudition, they argue persuasively that given the current balance of social forces—as bank bailouts around the globe make evident—regulation is not a means of fundamentally reordering power in society, but rather a way of preserving markets.

Contrary to those who believe US hegemony is on the wane, Albo, Gindin and Panitch contend that the meltdown has, in fact, reinforced the centrality of the American state as the dominant force within global capitalism, while simultaneously increasing the difficulties entailed in managing its imperial role.      

In conclusion, the authors argue that it’s time to start thinking about genuinely transformative alternatives to capitalism—and how to build the collective capacity to get us there. We should be thinking bigger and preparing to go further. In and Out of Crisis stands to be the enduring critique of the crisis and an indispensable springboard for a renewed Left. 

Praise:

“Once again, Panitch, Gindin, and Albo show that they have few rivals and no betters in analyzing the relations between politics and economics, between globalization and American power, between theory and quotidian reality, and between crisis and political possibility. At once sobering and inspiring, this is one of the few pieces of writing that I've seen that's essential to understanding—to paraphrase a term from accounting - the sources and uses of crisis. Splendid and essential.”
—Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer, author of After the New Economy and Wall Street

“Mired in political despair? Planning your escape to a more humane continent? Baffled by the economy? Convinced that the Left is out of ideas? Pull yourself together and read this book, in which Albo, Gindin, and Panitch, some of the world's sharpest living political economists, explain the current financial crisis - and how we might begin to make a better world.”
—Liza Featherstone, author of Students Against Sweatshops and Selling Women Short: The Landmark Battle for Worker’s Rights at Wal-Mart

In and Out of Crisis is a salutary reminder that knee-jerk reactions to current events are not the best way forward for the Left. What we need is careful investigation combined with practical experiences on campaigns to develop our movement. This book not only gives us a course in the global financial meltdown, but it also provides a model for how the Left must develop its alternatives, not ex nihilo, but from a study of the contradictions of the present.”
—Vijay Prashad, author of Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World

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Reviews
Profits of Doom: Spectres of Capitalist Crisis
By Bryan D Palmer
Labour
Spring 2011, Iss. 67; pg. 189, 14 pgs 

In and Out of Crisis insists that neither individual nation states nor their role as regulators of markets have disappeared in the age of neo-liberal globalization. It also argues that orthodox Marxist understandings of a binary opposition separating financial/fictive and productive capital are overdrawn, and that the financialization of capitalism in the last third of the 20th century was fundamental to the new terrain of capitalism. They agree with Smith that capitalist crises are inevitable, but they are far more insistent that each crisis must be analyzed rigorously on its own terms. "The interesting political questions," they write, "relate to not only why crises occur under capitalism, but also as to what makes each crisis distinct." (39)

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In and Out of Crisis : A Review
By Stuart Schrader
MRR
August 2010


After reading many accounts of the crisis, including some that are quite compelling page-turners (the best are Meltdown by Paul Mason and The Big Short by Michael Lewis), In and Out of Crisis is bracing. It dispenses with the moralistic platitudes and tendentiousness one finds in the mainstream and on the left, without giving the false impression that the system can be patched like a pair of crust pants and sent back out into the pit. It is rather a jargon-free, easy-to-read account that focuses neither too closely on the day-to-day details of what has been called “the great unraveling” from summer 2007 to fall 2008, nor gives such a long-distance view that the incompetence, cravenness, guile, and greed of the financiers and the Bush administration lose pertinence.

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In and Out of Crisis : A Review
by Kanchan Sarker
Socialist Studies

Among the many books on the contemporary economic crisis, In and Out of Crisis is in a class of its own. Three prominent scholar-activists have teamed up to provide an insightful and provocative analysis of the crisis and its implications for the future of neoliberalism, the American empire and the North American Left. In doing so, this new book picks up themes common to Panitch and Gindin’s on-going work on the American empire and Albo’s research on neoliberalism. 

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Capitalist Crisis, Radical Renewal?
An interview with the authors of In and Out of Crisis

ZNet

It's an illusion to imagine that finance is out there in some greedy Gordon Gecko world and that is “bad capitalism,” rather than what GM does which is somehow “good capitalism” and why GM was in the tank was because of the Geckos of this world.  Not at all. This is capitalism and both productive capital, in the sense of industrial corporations or retail firms like Wal-Mart, and the big banks are part of the totality and we need to understand them in terms of the way they link with one another.

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Interview with Sam Aldo, Sam Gindin, & Leo Panitch
ZNet

This book departs from the common tendency on the left no less than on the right to judge economic and political developments through the prism of ‘states versus markets’, with each crisis marking an oscillation between one pole or the other. There are many conceptual and political traps in such a binary opposition.

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In and Out of Crisis
The Irish Left Review

March 26, 2010 Last week’s podcast from Doug Henwood’s Behind the News (embedded below) is definitely worth listening to. The entire show is dedicated to a discussion of the financial crisis with the political economists Greg Albo, Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch who are the co-authors of a new book In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives.

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In and Out of Crisis
Permanent Revolution Magazine

“The three Canadian authors and academics, two of whom are editors of socialist register, have written a concise account of the Great recession and the tasks facing the left….They put it succinctly: “The way forward is not to take one step first and another more radical step later but to find ways of integrating both the immediate demands and the goal of systemic change into the building of new political capacities.””

 

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The Busy Reader's Guide to the Financial Meltdown
By Daniel Tucker
In These Times

The book presents the clearest explanation of the “defeat of labor” that has occurred in recent decades, going beyond simplistic descriptions of de-industrialization to elaborate on the interconnectedness between off-shoring, automation, free-trade policies like NAFTA, stagnant wages, and the integration of workers into the financial sector through pensions and real-estate investments. The trio’s focus is not limited to an exclusively union way forward, and they repeatedly call for the need to connect organized labor to other social movements to renew working-class culture and politics as a step towards creating Left political alternatives to capitalism.

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Panitch and Harvey Provide Essential Primers on the Financial Crisis
By Ed Walsh
Irish Left Review

In their short, accessible primer, Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin set out to dispel some naïve and woolly thinking about the crisis on the Left. They challenge the common view of neo-liberalism as an ideology pure and simple, describing it instead as a class project which aimed to reinforce the social power of capitalist elites in the global North. This brings into question the idea that 2008’s meltdown - and the massive state intervention which followed - marked the demise of neo-liberalism. The ideology has certainly been rendered laughable, but then, it was never meant to be carried out in practice.

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In and Out of Crisis
Book Review
By Carlo Fanelli
Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research

On the whole, In and Out of Crisis is all but certain to have a broad appeal to researchers and academics, as well as students and lay persons alike. The era of neoliberalism—that is, capitalist militancy, is by no means over. In fact, it seems to be gaining new momentum the world over. Albo, Gindin and Panitch, in their short but no less provocative book, do much to not only shed light on what led to the enduring socio-economic and political uncertainty, but provide a much needed analysis on what may need to be done in order to avoid such relapses in the future.

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Capitalist Crisis and Left Alternatives
By Hamid Sodeifi
New Socialist

What makes this book particularly valuable is the way it provides a clear, and in most cases very compelling, account of the social, political and economic changes of the last 30 years as a point of entry into the more important strategic considerations about the future course of the movement for fundamental social change. With the publication of In and Out of Crisis, Albo, Gindin and Panitch have set out to make a contribution to the "widest degree of discussion and debate" about economic and political possibilities in order to develop "strategies for identifying allies and building new popular, union and community capacities." This book is an excellent contribution to this project and needs to become one of the reference points for those seriously interested in challenging the rule of capital.

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