Monthly Archives: June 2013

Arrighi on the Capitalist Archipelago of East and Southeast Asia

From Giovanni Arrighi’s The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of our Times (1994):

On the other hand, the superiority of force and the capitalist accumulation of capital seemed to diverge geopolitically as never before. The decline of Soviet power was matched by the emergence of what Bruce Cumings (1993:25-6) has aptly called the ‘capitalist archipelago’ of East and Southeast Asia. This archipelago consists of several ‘islands’ of capitalism, which rise above the ‘sea’ of horizontal exchanges among local and world markets through the centralization within their domains of large-scale profits and high value-added activities. Below this sea lie the huge, low-cost, and highly industrious laboring masses of the entire East and Southeast Asian regions, into which the capitalist ‘islands’ thrust their roots but without providing them with the means needed to rise to or above ‘sea level.’ (p. 23)