Twenty-first-century capital

Critical post-Soviet Marxist reflections

By Aleksander Buzgalin and Andrey Kolganov

Translated by Renfrey Clarke

Twenty-first-century capital


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3145-4
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: November 2021
  • BIC Category: Politics, Marxism & Communism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Capitalism, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Economy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, Economics, finance, business & management / Economic theory & philosophy, Economics, finance, business & management / Political economy, Society & social sciences / Marxism & Communism
  • Series: Geopolitical Economy


How would Marx have understood twenty-first-century capitalism? For Buzgalin and Kolganov, the answer lies in a theoretical investigation of how and why the fundamental elements of capitalism- commodities, money and capital - have changed since the publication of Marx's Capital more than 150 years ago.

Introducing the concepts of social creativity, markets for simulacra and virtual fictitious capital - Buzgalin and Kolganov offer a recovery and development of Marx's understanding of social transformations. Twenty-first century capitalism not only demonstrates Marxism's relevance to the core economic questions of our time and its superiority over neoclassical economics, but it leads English-language readers into the 'undiscovered country' of Soviet and post-Soviet critical Marxism.

How might modern Marxism respond to the contemporary challenges of the commodification of knowledge and information? And can it arrive at something resembling a Capital for the twenty-first century? This accessible and comprehensive account is essential reading for those wanting to understand the problems of the modern economy.


'This remarkable text will bring the Western reader into contact with the rich and ongoing currents of Russian critical Marxism, whose essential task is to apply dialectical reasoning to the emerging technological, social and economic formations of the twenty-first century. Institutionalists and evolutionary economists will find many points of potential convergence, suggesting the importance of a deeper dialogue, as we seek to move economics beyond the stagnation and dogmatism of the neoliberal era.'
James K. Galbraith, The University of Texas at Austin, author of Inequality and Instability

'This ambitious book presents a comprehensive analysis and critique of the current stage of market-driven capitalism. Drawing on the Soviet and post-Soviet schools of critical Marxism that are little-known in the West, Buzgalin and Kolganov propose a dialectical version of Marxist analysis that analyses the evolution of commodities, money, capital, and production relations. They argue that the exploitation not only of individual creative labour but the universal creative wealth of society now play a central role in capitalism.'
David M. Kotz, The University of Massachusetts Amherst, author of The Rise and Fall of Neoliberal Capitalism

'Buzgalin and Kolganov address the most fundamental issue in the analysis of economic systems since the Ancient world, namely the relationship between financial capital and the non-financial economy. This was the focal point of Marx's own analysis of capitalism, which is the philosophical foundation for this book. The authors build upon Marx's foundations to explore the way in which this relationship has undergone a revolutionary transformation in the past forty years. As a result the global system of political economy stands at the edge of an abyss. This book sheds highly original and deep insight into this fundamental issue for the human species.'
Peter Nolan, University of Cambridge

'A critical Marxist reflection on the evolution of modern capitalism from a Russian perspective is more urgent today than ever before, given that country's disastrous plunge into war on Ukraine and totalitarian rule. A book bringing together Russian and 'Western' Marxist scholarship of the past decades ought to help us towards new perspectives on how the capitalist system has changed and how these changes point to a transformation beyond capitalism.'
Corinna Lotz, Marx & Philosophy Review of Books


Foreword to the English edition

Part I: Methodology matters
1 The methodology of Capital: Karl Marx, Evald Ilyenkov, and the dialectics of the twenty-first century
2 From orthodoxy to the post-Soviet school of critical Marxism
3 Obsolete postmodernism: the dialectics of non-linear, multi-scenario social transformations
4 What drives the development of technology and the economy: production relations vs. productive forces, social creativity vs. activism

Part II: The market, money, and capital in the twenty-first century
1 'Late capitalism': stages of development
2 The totalitarian market: networks and simulacra
3 Money in the twenty-first Century: financialisation as a product of virtual fictitious financial capital
4 Capital in the twenty-first century
5 Twenty-first-century reproduction: inequality and the 'useless economy'

Conclusion - capital and capitalism: what has changed in the twenty-first century
Postscript: limits of the market and capital


Aleksandr Buzgalin is Professor at the department of Political Economy and Director of the Center for Modern Marxist Studies at Lomonosov Moscow State University

Andrey Kolganov is Professor at the Lomonosov Moscow State University and Principal Researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences

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