Bob Jessop: The Future of the Capitalist State.

Author:Markantonatou, Maria
Position:Book Review

Bob Jessop The Future of the Capitalist State Polity Press, Cambridge, 2002, 344 PP. ISBN 0-7456-2273-9 (pbk) 17.99 ISBN 0-7456-2272-0 (hbk) 55.00

Bob Jessop's analysis of the transformations of capital accumulation processes is concerned with the shift from the post-war Keynesian welfare national state and Atlantic Fordism, to the post-Fordist accumulation regime and to what he describes as the 'Schumpeterian competition state'. He focuses not only on the restructuring of the welfare state but also on interconnections within the knowledge-based economy; on the impact of processes of globalisation and Europeanisation on the expansion of capital accumulation; and on the increasing subordination of social policy to economic policy. His analytical instruments derive from four different theoretical schools: regulation theory; the approach to the political economy of the state of Gramsci and Poulantzas; critical discourse analysis; and from the recent analysis of autopoietic systems.

One of Jessop's fundamental premises is that neither is the capitalist mode of production subjected to pure economic, politically neutral rules of function, nor is the market self-regulating. Rather, the capitalist mode of production is an object of regulation by the state and by a variety of extra-economic powers. This capitalist, regulating state 'comprises an ensemble of socially embedded, socially regularized and strategically selective institutions, organizations, social forces and actions organized around (or at least involved in) the expanded reproduction of capital as a social relation' (P. 5).

Starting with a brief analysis of the economies of Atlantic Fordism (the us and Canada, Northwestern Europe, Australia and New Zealand), he examines the distinct features of the Keynesian welfare national state (KWNS) as an ideal-type form of state, and focuses on the causes of the fiscal and economic crisis that this form of political organisation underwent in the late-1960s and 1970s. The retreat of domestic production in favour of the growing internationalisation of capital; the growing stagflationary tendency in Fordism; and a decline in the rate and mass of profits have all been, as Jessop notes, some of the structural reasons for the progressive exhaustion of the KWNS. Also, the 'class-based egalitarianism and the accompanying class-based redistributive politics' (p. 90) of the KWNS reflected on a number of welfare and social-reproduction policies that 'assumed...

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