Writing Out Loud: The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System

In “The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System,” Immanuel Wallerstein echoes Marx’s ideas on capital to explain world history and, in particular, its economic dimensions. For Wallerstein, world history is comprised of unequal economic exchanges between core countries and peripheral ones, which together comprise a capitalist “world system.” Answer the following questions as you complete the reading.

Theme: Networks of Capital


  1. Why does Wallerstein think it is important to explain world history as a series of stages?
  2. Like Marx, Wallerstein contends that the capitalist world-system is built upon two important contradictions that will eventually lead to its demise. Please explain these two contradictions in your own words.
  3. Wallerstein is relatively cynical about the promises of globalization, suggesting instead that it has brought about a tremendous inequality and exploitation. Do you agree with Wallerstein’s pessimism? Why or why not? Are there benefits to globalization and, if so, what are they?
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