Contours of a Multipolar Century

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In the twenty-first century, two key frameworks have emerged by which to understand the dynamics and tendencies of the world system: one which sees a consolidation of U.S. hegemony and another which sees the emergence of a multipolar architecture of competing centers of capital accumulation. Radhika Desai's Geopolitical Economy offers a comprehensive, persuasive, and clearly argued case for the latter. Highlighting the framework of uneven and combined development (UCD) to explain the emergence of new centers of capital accumulation, Desai argues that U.S. imperial domination was never as complete or durable as often claimed, that its empire was only a shadow of the unique domination of the world system once exercised by the British, and that this is a definitively new era of multipolar capitalism; old categories such as “globalization” and “empire” need to be critically reexamined and in some cases discarded. This essay surveys Desai's case and adds evidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)558-570
Number of pages13
JournalRethinking Marxism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct. 2015


  • China
  • Multipolarity
  • Reserve Currency
  • U.S. Hegemony
  • Uneven and Combined Development


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