The Present as History: Thoughts on Capitalism at the Millennium


  • David McNally



Political Economy


Talk of a "new economy" is all the rage these days. A dynamic global market economy that has no precedents is said to be propelling the world into a new millennium of abundance. In their 1998 special double issue on "the 21st Century Economy," for instance, the editors of Business Week predicted that "Revolutionary technology and rapid globalization…will send productivity soaring, allowing faster growth with low inflation and modest unemployment. This dynamic could last for decades, bringing unimagined prosperity worldwide." With each new record for the U.S. stock market, with every new announcement that the latest crisis—be it in East Asia, Russia or Brazil—is over, heady talk like this proliferates. Indeed, with the intensifying hype surrounding the arrival of the year 2000, we have entered a bull market in euphoric prognostication. If we are to believe the millennial pundits, the world stands on the eve of a virtually unlimited era of global prosperity. Capitalism is said to have finally come of age. Having vanquished all challengers, having apparently tamed labor, anti-imperialist, and radical social movements, it can now calmly go about the business of making us all rich.

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