A Failed System

A Failed System: The World Crisis of Capitalist Globalization and its Impact on China“, Monthly Review vol. 60, no. 10 (March 2009), pp. 1-23. DOI: 10.14452/MR-060-10-2009-03_1

In referring in my title here to “A Failed System” I do not of course mean that capitalism as a system is in any sense at an end. Rather I mean by “failed system” a global economic and social order that increasingly exhibits a fatal contradiction between reality and reason—to the point, in our time, where it threatens not only human welfare but also the continuation of most sentient forms of life on the planet. Three critical contradictions make up the contemporary world crisis emanating from capitalist development: (1) the current Great Financial Crisis and stagnation/depression; (2) the growing threat of planetary ecological collapse; and (3) the emergence of global imperial instability associated with shifting world hegemony and the struggle for resources. Such structural weaknesses of the system, as Joseph Schumpeter might have said, are the product of capitalism’s past successes, but they raise catastrophic problems and failures in the present nonetheless. How we choose to act today in response to this failed system is therefore the most critical question that humanity has ever faced.

  • Chinese translation by Dong Hui, Philosophical Trends (China)no. 5, 2009; separate Chinese translation by Wu Wei and Liu Shuai, Marxism and Reality (China), no. 3, 2009.
  • Portuguese translation in Monthly Review, Portuguese-Language Edition (Brazil), no. 11, 2009;
  • Spanish translations in Monthly Review, Selecciones en Castellano, no. 10 (2009), and Blog De Um Sem-Mídia, Domingo, March 29, 2009.
  • Bangla translation in Bangla Monthly Review, vol. 1, no. 4 (September 2009). Translated by Nilanjan Dutt.


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