IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Has the empire struck back? ‘new paradigm’ globalisation or return to classical imperialism?

Listed author(s):
  • Freeman, Alan

This article is a prepublication transcript of ‘Has the Empire Struck Back?’ in Albritton, R, Makoto Itoh, Richard Westra and Alan Zuege (eds) Phases of Capitalist Development: Booms, Crises, and Globalization, pp195-215. London: McMillan. ISBN 0 33375 316 X The paper conducts an empirical examination of the current state of the world market with a view to assessing (and establishing the relative strengths and weaknesses of) two contrasting views: the first, that it is the outcome of a process of globalisation, in some sense, and the second, that it is explicable through the classical accounts of imperialism dating from the turn of the last century. It considers also the empirical relevance of Kondratieff’s and Schumpeter’s conception of ‘long waves’ of growth and accumulation. It develops the distinction between endogenous and exogenous causes of decline and accumulation in the market and argues that they are connected to a prolonged secular trend towards income polarisation between blocs of nations characteristic of the operation of the market. It argues that whereas the declining phase of a long wave is endogenous and lawlike, recovery is exogenous and contingent, depending on the outcome of conscious political intervention. The key to the economic outcome of the present phase of capitalism is therefore the political relation between the main players It argues that history has seen two quite distinct patterns of exogenously-constituted recovery from generalised crisis. The industrial revolution, and the post-WWII boom were ‘hegemonically-ordered’ yielding high global profit rates under a single hegemonic power (the UK in 1845, the US in 1945) which fuelled a general expansion even of its rivals, and yielding rising (if unequal) prosperity, relative peace, and political stability. 1890-1914 was different. The profit rate did not recover to previous levels, there was no clear hegemon, growing misery and barbarity over the immiserated parts of the world, and intense great power rivalry leading to the wars and revolutions that bestrode the twentieth century. I argue that the evidence suggests the only possible basis of a new wave of economic expansion is a recovery more comparable with 1890-1914 than 1945-1965. The present period is one dominated by the steady but inexorable loss of US economic hegemony but with no clear alternative hegemon. This leads to an essentially unstable, warlike, and intractable period of competition for domination over sources of surplus profit. I call this a return to ‘classical imperialism’.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
File Function: original version
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 2589.

in new window

Date of creation: Jun 2000
Publication status: Published in Albritton, R, Makoto Itoh, Richard Westra and Alan Zuege (eds) Phases of Capitalist Development: Booms, Crises, and Globalization, London: McMillan. ISBN 0 33375 316 X (2000): pp. 195-215
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:2589
Contact details of provider: Postal:
Ludwigstraße 33, D-80539 Munich, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)89-2180-2459
Fax: +49-(0)89-2180-992459
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Freeman, Alan, 2008. "The Poverty of Statistics," MPRA Paper 16827, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Aug 2009.
  2. Lant Pritchett, 1997. "Divergence, Big Time," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(3), pages 3-17, Summer.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:2589. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.