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Working Paper 194


In the current economic crisis, left and progressive political economy has enjoyed renewed attention and credibility, both inside and outside of academia. This has two goals. First, it surveys the important recent contributions to this literature by Robert Brenner, David Harvey, and Robert Pollin, summarizing key arguments and identifying generative research questions and theoretical heuristics for further inquiry. Second, it reads these works alongside several tendencies in the recent history of the Anglo-American left and considers how they might help to forge more fruitful dialogue between analyses of social movements and economic structures, too often studied apart. Throughout, the paper stresses the importance of retaining the robust critical power of the left critique while avoiding the fatalism, sectarianism, and “automatic” theories of social change that have bedeviled the left’s recent past.


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