Leo Panitch

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Leo Panitch, FRSC (born May 3, 1945, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) is a Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science at York University and editor of the Socialist Register.[1] Panitch frequently collaborates with Sam Gindin.

Life and work[edit]

Panitch received a B.A. (Hons.) from the University of Manitoba in 1967 and a M.Sc.(Hons.) and PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1968 and 1974, respectively. He taught at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984, and has been a Professor of Political Science at York University since 1984, serving as the Chair of the Department of Political Science from 1988-1994. He was the General Co-editor of the State and Economic Life series, University of Toronto Press from 1979 to 1995, and is the co-founder and a board member of the Studies in Political Economy journal. He is also the author of numerous articles and books dealing with political science including The End of Parliamentary Socialism. He was a member of the Movement for an Independent Socialist Canada (1973-1975), the Canadian Political Science Association, the Committee of Socialist Studies, the Marxist Institute, and the Royal Society of Canada. He is currently a supporter of the Socialist Project and the Greater Toronto Workers Assembly.


Panitch is a prominent exponent of Marxism who sees his own work as theoretically innovative within that tradition, because he maintains that the dominance of the United States in the early years of the twenty-first century can't be understood using theories of imperialism that are themselves a century old.

He has argued, for example, that the concept of imperialism developed for the Victorian era over-emphasized the matter of the export of capital. Yet if one uses that as a yardstick today (he reasons) Great Britain is more a victim of U.S. imperialism than Kenya—since American investors have much more at stake in the former than in the latter. The advanced industrial nations, in other words, are interpenetrating—exporting capital to one another, not to the 'South,' and this requires a great deal of revision in Marxist-Leninist models.

Panitch has also argued that Marx was wrong to contend that the rise of trade unions would develop a socialistic class-consciousness in the working class. The association of workers for the purpose of collective bargaining has proven quite compatible with capitalism—since such bargaining concerns the terms of wage labor, not the legitimacy of wage labor. He argues that Marxist political parties must abandon the assumption that there is anything inherently revolutionary about any class, so that they can get to work creating a self-conscious revolutionary class of wage earners, "articulating the articulation."

At the "Globalization, Justice and Democracy" symposium (Delhi University, November 11, 2010), Panitch, drawing on his book In and Out of Crisis (with Greg Albo and Sam Gindin), addressed a lack of ambition on the left which has been more debilitating than its lack of capacity in the current global economic crisis, and outlines the kinds of immediate demands for radical reforms as well as longer term socialist strategic orientation that is needed today.


  1. ^ "Leo Panitch". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 24 November 2013. 

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