Headlines warn about sweeping societal forces such as climate change and resource depletion, but attention also needs to be paid to the damages created by modern capitalism. A new book series from Palgrave invites academic contributions to help us grapple with these important issues.
Who can blame the average person who feels deluged by apocalyptic warnings over Earth’s future? Climate-change research confirms the likelihood of disruptive weather patterns, for instance. With recent examples like Cape Town’s anticipation of an upcoming “water zero” supply day, we hear alarms about lack of fresh water and other resource degradation. Alongside these challenges are how these and other factors contribute to the threat of “economic apocalypse”—and we must be equally prepared as a society to cope with the forces at play. For these reasons, we have created a new series called Palgrave Insights into Apocalypse Economics. The series encourages creative thinking from academics about how to solve such challenges in a way that is multidisciplinary and includes diverse regional perspectives.
While forecasts of impending economic doom have been made in the past, capitalism has emerged from cyclical events like the Great Depression, reconstituted in new forms that incorporated lessons from downturns of the past along with economic and political bulwarks to forestall their recurrence. It has ensured workers of various stripes a raft of socioeconomic protections and “middle class” lifestyles.
Notwithstanding past evidence of capitalist survivability, the 1980s ushered in a plethora of destructive tendencies suggesting that now capitalism is making its way onto the endangered species list and lurching toward extinction.
First, via globalization, advanced industrial economies disintegrated their full-scale production systems and replaced them with “global value chains,” which crisscross low-wage areas of the world. This change exorcized mass labor forces along with the social protections that sustained them, thwarting in perpetuity the reconstitution of that economic model elsewhere.
Second, workers in such low-wage locales enjoy little longer-term benefit from the flow of jobs their way because a new generation of information technologies and robotics are stepping in to usurp routine labor tasks worldwide.
Third, to enable the pooling of funds “freed” from investment commitments to erstwhile integrated industrial economies, states deregulated and liberalized financial sectors, thus encouraging short-term arbitrage opportunities and speculative money games. Finance, as such, operates as a surreptitious industrial policy, which keeps production-centered activities on a global level, with ever-shorter investment horizons.
Fourth, in areas where full-scale industrial capitalist economies translated into growing prosperity and broader socioeconomic development for close to two centuries, today’s growth in gross domestic product is decoupled from industrialization, development, and social prosperity, and only foments growing social polarization.
Fifth, the frenetic pace and rapid economic obsolescence that is prompted by globalization and financialization, exacerbates the apocalyptic trajectories of climate change, environmental destruction, and resource depletion. This shift results in conflicts which send legions of desperate refugees around the world in search of remaining safe havens, and encourages technocratic and militaristic tendencies of powerful states to potentially ready themselves to covet what assets and resources which remain.
The series Palgrave Insights into Apocalypse Economics is designed precisely to attract critical scholarship, to treat in peer-reviewed monographs or collections any or all apocalyptic economic tendencies outlined above. It is also interested in scholarly writing that shows ways in which the foregoing economic pathologies concatenate with other apocalyptic tendencies such as climate change or even spread symptoms of economic and social breakdown such as cyber-crime, terrorism, and so forth. Of course, the series also encourages creative thinking about what the road out of this morass for humanity entails. Is it possible to radically transform capitalism and democratize it not only politically but economically to realize a progressive, sustainable future? Or will the road for humanity necessitate seismic socioeconomic change beyond capitalism in the forms of economy proposed by socialists, greens, anarchists, and others?
Submissions are ideally between 60,000 and 110,000 words, although shorter submissions (25,000-50,000 words) will be considered for our Palgrave Pivot publication format.
Authors interested in submitting a proposal should contact the series editor directly (Richard Westra: firstname.lastname@example.org) or Senior Editor Laura Pacey (email@example.com)
By Richard Westra, Palgrave Macmillan