And it ain’t pretty. The man has a reputation for being correct, too. He famously predicted the Soviet Union would collapse long before anyone else thought it would, and now he writes:
The depression has started. Journalists are still coyly enquiring of economists whether or not we may be entering a mere recession. Don’t believe it for a minute. We are already at the beginning of a full-blown worldwide depression with extensive unemployment almost everywhere. It may take the form of a classic nominal deflation, with all its negative consequences for ordinary people. Or it might take the form, a bit less likely, of a runaway inflation, which is simply another way in which values deflate, and which is even worse for ordinary people.
As he is known to do, Immanuel Wallerstein takes a long view, a systemic view of the worldwide financial chaos. In his mind it has more to do with cycles within capitalism than with a few bad deals or rogue traders.
You can read the whole (short) essay here.
As IW has been writing for some time, he also believes that capitalism is in the long, slow process of ending. Or more specifically, turning into something else. What that will be is up to us:
We can assert with confidence that the present system cannot survive. What we cannot predict is which new order will be chosen to replace it, because it will be the result of an infinity of individual pressures. But sooner or later, a new system will be installed. This will not be a capitalist system but it may be far worse (even more polarizing and hierarchical) or much better (relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian) than such a system. The choice of a new system is the major worldwide political struggle of our times.
He ends on this uplifting note:
As for our immediate short-run ad interim prospects, it is clear what is happening everywhere. We have been moving into a protectionist world (forget about so-called globalization). We have been moving into a much larger direct role of government in production. Even the United States and Great Britain are partially nationalizing the banks and the dying big industries. We are moving into populist government-led redistribution, which can take left-of-center social-democratic forms or far right authoritarian forms. And we are moving into acute social conflict within states, as everyone competes over the smaller pie. In the short-run, it is not, by and large, a pretty picture.
Lovely. Helmets and flak jackets on, folks. The War is about to come home.