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Geoffrey McCormack

Abstract

One of the leading explanations for Canadian banking stability through the global financial crisis of 2007–08 is the Concentration-Stability Hypothesis (CSH), according to which the oligopoly of Canadian finance stabilised the credit system by cushioning it with above-average profits. These provided a buffer against fragility and incentives against excessive risk-taking. In this article, I critically examine CSH and show that classical Marxian analysis more effectively illuminates Canadian banking stability. I demonstrate that robust corporate profitability and capital accumulation before the crisis strengthened the balance sheets of the banks and supported them through those turbulent years. Thus, financial stability is linked explicitly to broader economic stability, and the latter is linked to the profitability of business enterprise.

Neil Davidson

Abstract

This article is a response to some of the criticisms made of How Revolutionary were the Bourgeois Revolutions? by Gerstenberger, Post and Riley. In particular, it focuses on two issues of definition – that of capitalism and the capitalist nation-state – which arise from the book’s ‘consequentialist’ claim that bourgeois revolutions are defined by a particular outcome: the establishment of nation-states dedicated to the accumulation of capital.

The Central Office of Factory Councils in 1919–20

A Forgotten Chapter in the German Council Movement

Axel Weipert

Abstract

This article is a shortened version of a chapter from Axel Weipert’s 2015 book, Die zweite Revolution.

Luis Tapia Mealla

Abstract

René Zavaleta set out to deepen the explanation of the history of Bolivia by developing a set of ideas about long-term structures of pre-Hispanic and colonial origin and their forms of overlap. This paper analyses the conceptual structure of Zavaleta’s proposal and the place of history within it.

ʻHow Bourgeois Were the Bourgeois Revolutions?ʼ

Remarks on Neil Davidson’s Book

Heide Gerstenberger

Abstract

While the overview concerning debates on bourgeois revolutions is impressive, it cannot elucidate the theoretical concept of bourgeois revolutions. Neil Davidson’s own suggestion centres on the removal of hindrances to the breakthrough of capitalism, especially the pre-capitalist state. This formalistic definition is based on the assumption that revolutions occurred when the superstructure became a hindrance to the further development of productive forces. It deprives the theoretical concept of bourgeois revolutions of any concrete historical content. This paper suggests restricting the use of the theoretical concept ‘bourgeois revolution’ to those revolutionary changes of domination and appropriation which occurred in European societies of the ancien régime.

Charles Post

Abstract

The canonical version of the ‘bourgeois revolutions’ has been under attack from both pro-capitalist ‘Revisionist’ historians and ‘Political Marxists’. Neil Davidson’s book How Revolutionary Were the Bourgeois Revolutions? provides a thorough review of the intellectual history of the notion of the bourgeois revolution and attempts to rescue the concept from varied criticism. Despite distancing himself from problematic formulations of the bourgeois revolution inherited from Second-International Marxism, Davidson’s own framework reproduces many of the historical and conceptual problems of this tradition.

Jeffery R. Webber

Abstract

This introduction situates the work of Zavaleta in the field of Bolivian intellectual history, Latin American Studies, and Latin American Marxism. It also explains the objectives of the symposium and the logic underlying its constituent parts.

Motley Society, Plurinationalism, and the Integral State

Álvaro García Linera’s Use of Gramsci and Zavaleta

Anne Freeland

Abstract

This article examines Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera’s use of concepts originating in the work of Antonio Gramsci and Bolivian sociologist René Zavaleta Mercado. Zavaleta’s concept of sociedad abigarrada (usually translated as ‘motley society’) has a history of misappropriation in which García Linera participates by articulating it with the related concept of the estado aparente to claim that the merely ‘apparent’ state which does not effectively represent the heterogeneous social reality of a country like Bolivia is abolished with the official establishment of the Plurinational State in 2009. This ideologeme of the Plurinational State as one that faithfully represents Bolivia’s abigarramiento is equated with the Gramscian stato integrale, which in Gramsci refers to the state proper plus civil society where these are thoroughly integrated to function as an organic whole (the modern capitalist nation-state). Beyond merely misusing the borrowed terms of this discursive operation, García Linera gives a prescriptive value to concepts developed for an analytical purpose to validate the existing regime.

Self-Knowledge and Self-Determination at the Limits of Capitalism

Introduction to René Zavaleta Mercado’s Towards a History of the National-Popular in Bolivia: 1879–1980

Sinclair Thomson

Abstract

This text is an introduction to the new English translation of critical theorist René Zavaleta Mercado’s Towards a History of the National-Popular in Bolivia: 1879–1980. It surveys principal themes in the book and discusses why Zavaleta (1935–84) is a pertinent thinker for the global South and capitalist periphery today.