Modernity, Postmodernity, or Capitalism?


  • Ellen Meiksins Wood



Marxism, Political Economy


Since about the early 1970s, we are supposed to have been living in a new historical epoch. That epoch has been described in various ways. Some accounts emphasize cultural changes ("postmodernism"), while others focus more on economic transformations, changes in production and marketing, or in corporate and financial organization ("late capitalism," "multinational capitalism," "post-Fordisrn," "flexible accumulation," and so on). These descriptions have in common a preoccupation with new technologies, new forms of communication, the internet, the "information superhighway." Whatever else this new age is, it is the "information age." And whatever other factors are supposed to have figured in this epochal shift, the new technologies have been its indispensable condition. All these factors—cultural and economic, with their technological foundations—have been brought together in the concept of "postmodernity" and the proposition that in the past two or three decades, we have witnessed a historic transition from modernity to postmodernity.

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