New Book


26th Jun 2019


Periodizing Capitalism and Capitalist Extinction | Richard Westra | Palgrave Macmillan

This book offers the first systematic exposition and critique of the major approaches to periodizing capitalism, bringing to bear both deep rooted theoretical questions and meticulous empirical analysis to grapple with the seismic economic changes capitalism has experienced over the past 150 years.

Westra asks why – despite the anarchic and crises tendencies captured in radical analyses – capitalism manages to reload in a structured stage that realizes a period of relatively stable accumulation. He further evaluates arguments over the economic forces bringing stages of capitalist development to a crashing end.

Particular attention in the periodization literature is devoted to examining the economy of the post World War II golden age and what followed its unceremonious demise. The final chapters assess whether what is variously dubbed neoliberalism, globalization or financialization can be understood as a stage of capitalism or, rather, an era of capitalist disintegration and extinction.


“In his new book, Richard Westra takes up two long-standing and crucial questions in the study of capitalism. How do we conceptualize and periodize the different historical phases of capitalist development in general and this long period of neoliberal globalization in particular? What are the signs of a fundamental impasse in capitalism’s dynamics of accumulation, it’s terminal crisis, and the emergent political conditions pointing toward a social transformation? There are few texts that take these issues up, and Westra provides a timely and important map to these debates. In a conjuncture in world politics where social forces on the right are taking an authoritarian turn and new movements on the left are beginning to surface, this book is written with the right temper of careful assessment and necessary sense of political urgency.” (Greg Albo, York University, Canada)

“After systematically critiquing alternative accounts presented over the last 150 years, Westra develops his own explanation of the discontinuities in continuity of capitalism. His book will appeal to all those with a theoretical, historical, and practical interest in the nature, trajectory, and crisis-tendencies of capitalism up the current stage of consumerism.” (Bob Jessop, Lancaster University, UK)

“Many analysts have sought to identify and analyze distinct periods in capitalist history, from Marx, Hilferding, and Lenin, through recent examinations of neoliberalism, globalization, and financialization. Richard Westra fills a gap in this literature by offering a comprehensive account, along with a critique, of those efforts. He offers a gloomy conclusion, that the current stage is not a stage of capitalism at all but a period of disintegration of its foundations.” (David M. Kotz, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)

“Determining the historical periods of capitalist development is one of the most complex problems faced by Marxist political economy. Richard Westra reviews the relevant literature with great skill, and discusses novel approaches that draw on Uno School Marxism. His book is a powerful contribution that will serve as reference point.” (Costas Lapavitsas, SOAS University of London, UK)