This book attempts to provide a Marxist critique of global political economy – that is to say, a critical commentary both on the way the world works and on alternative interpretations of this. This introduction describes what the book hopes to achieve and how it will try to do this. It is fi rst necessary to explain briefly what is meant by Marxism and by global political economy. There are many different Marxisms, all deeply unfashionable. Even to use the word is to court dismissal. Wise counsel may suggest euphemisms such as ‘critical’ or ‘radical’. Marxism, not for the first time, is pronounced dead. However, the fate of intellectual traditions in the social sciences is not one of simple rise and fall
as better explanations prevail. It also refl ects changes in the wider social world and is itself a political act. Marxism is often damned by way of lazy caricature and guilt by association. Most Marxists in the West, for example, had disowned the avowedly communist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe long before their collapse
and few were guilty of the vulgar materialism with which they were collectively charged. The sheer diversity of Marxism attests to a live tradition grappling with what remain real diffi culties, steering between materialism and idealism, between overly economic and political Marxisms.