Theoretical research summaries

The New Memphis

This Life is a profound tour of our inner life and purpose that deftly weaves in religion and political economy, with an eye always to the future. But it fails to appreciate the profound worth of institutional changes that might reallocate powers and capacities to exploited people here and now for its chief goal, spiritual freedom.

By |2019-08-07T12:31:02-04:00Aug 7, 2019|

The Ruling Class Does Rule

Social scientists should assuredly keep the structural constraints of capitalism in mind when developing state theory in the 21st century. However, we should not lose site of the fact that individuals also make history, and that a single-minded focus on the structural constraints of capitalism may only lead to a functionalist interpretation of the state, alongside a cynical approach to politics.

By |2019-07-17T11:52:11-04:00Jul 17, 2019|

It’s Not Just Profitability: A Response to Michael Roberts

Marxism has a future only if its practitioners confront unexpected developments with a determination to find their roots using the methodology and concepts of Marxism, not by trying to show that the evidence is wrong out of a misplaced fear that any unexpected development threatens to undermine Marxism.

By |2019-06-21T11:19:09-04:00Jun 21, 2019|

The class struggle over democracy

To understand democracy — to defend it and to deepen it — we should examine its long history rather than obsess about recent headwinds. In a recent article published in the American Journal of Sociology, I attempt to do just that. My research suggests that democratic progress over the last 150 years is the fruit of the changing character of class struggle over the state. Democracy has its origins in the capacity of the poor to disrupt the routines of the rich.

By |2019-05-31T09:54:44-04:00May 28, 2019|

The prevalence of populism after the great recession

The current pervasiveness of populist expression is inherently related to the institutional bases regulating economic activity under neoliberalism and, by extension, the type of systemic breakdown it gave way to after 2008. For instance, the proliferation of asset-bubbles, while crucial to avert declining profitability dynamics, served as well to foster increasing levels of household indebtedness which, in turn, were crucial to maintain rising private consumption levels in the face of widespread wage stagnation. Once these various contradictory trends could no longer be jointly reproduced, it was the whole institutional edifice regulating economic activity that crumbled down, rather than just one of its single components. Such a type of systemic breakdown was conducive to populist expressions of protest in its aftermath.

By |2019-05-17T08:39:30-04:00May 17, 2019|

Ideas and the Struggle Against Neoliberalism

The problem with the current trend of idea-centered scholarship on neoliberalism is that it seeks to isolate, and elevate the importance of ideas and experts, giving them a causal primacy that supposedly operate independently from materialist economic forces, the distribution of class power and the conduct of class struggle.

By |2019-05-08T10:14:13-04:00May 8, 2019|