Theory of Monopoly Capitalism
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Om Theory of Monopoly Capitalism
In 1966, Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy published Monopoly Capital,a monumental work of economic theory and social criticismthat sought to reveal the basic nature of the capitalism of theirtime. Their theory, and its continuing elaboration by Sweezy, HarryMagdoff, and others in Monthly Review magazine, infl uenced generationsof radical and heterodox economists. They recognizedthat Marxs work was unfi nished and itself historically conditioned,and that any attempt to understand capitalism as an evolvingphenomenon needed to take changing conditions into account. Having observed the rise of giant monopolistic (or oligopolistic)fi rms in the twentieth century, they put monopoly capital at thecenter of their analysis, arguing that the rising surplus such fi rmsaccumulatedas a result of their pricing power, massive salesefforts, and other factorscould not be profi tably invested backinto the economy. Absent any epoch making innovations like theautomobile or vast new increases in military spending, the resultwas a general trend toward economic stagnationa condition thatpersists, and is increasingly apparent, to this day. Their analysiswas also extended to issues of imperialism, or accumulation ona world scale, overlapping with the path-breaking work of SamirAmin in particular. John Bellamy Foster is a leading exponent of this theoretical perspectivetoday, continuing in the tradition of Baran and SweezysMonopoly Capital. This new edition of his essential work, TheTheory of Monopoly Capitalism, is a clear and accessible explicationof this outlook, brought up to the present, and incorporatingan analysis of recently discovered lost chapters from MonopolyCapital and correspondence between Baran and Sweezy. It alsodiscusses Magdoff and Sweezys analysis of the fi nancializationof the economy in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, leading up to theGreat Financial Crisis of the opening decade of this century. Fosterpresents and develops the main arguments of monopoly capitaltheory, examining its key exponents, and addressing its critics in away that is thoughtful but rigorous, suspicious of dogma but adamantthat the deep-seated problems of todays monopoly-fi nancecapitalism can only truly be solved in the process of overcomingthe system itself.