Leo Panitch

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Leo Panitch
Canadian political economy professor Leo Panitch.jpg
Leo Panitch in 2015
Born (1945-05-03) May 3, 1945 (age 69)
Winnipeg, Manitoba
Occupation Professor of Political Economy, York University, Toronto
Nationality Canadian
Education PhD London School of Economics
Genres Essays, books, newspaper commentary
Subjects British and Canadian labour history, global capitalism, socialism
Notable work Co-author: The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of the American Empire (2012)

Leo Panitch, FRSC (born May 3, 1945, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada) is a Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science and Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy at York University. He is a Marxist theorist and editor of the Socialist Register, an annual survey of trends in Marxist thought.[1][2][3]

Panitch is the author of many books including, Working-Class Politics in Crisis: essays on labour and the state (1986), The End of Parliamentary Socialism: from new left to new Labour (2001) and Renewing Socialism: transforming democracy, strategy and imagination (2008). He co-authored his most recent book, The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (2012) with his close friend and university colleague Sam Gindin.[4]

Early life, education and work[edit]

Leo Panitch grew up in Winnipeg's North End, a working-class neighbourhood that, as he noted decades later, produced "many people of a radical left political disposition." At first, he attributed this political tendency to the neighbourhood's mix of ethnicity and social class. Later, when he read the foreword to The Progressive Party in Canada, he discovered that Western Canada's "strong spirit of revolt" could be traced back to "the opposition to settlement of the Red River Valley which culminated in the Seven Oaks massacre of 1816." The massacre took place on ground where Panitch played as a boy.[5][6]

Panitch received a B.A. (Hons.) in 1967 and a M.Sc. (Hons.) the following year from the University of Manitoba. He earned his PhD from the London School of Economics in 1974. His doctoral thesis was entitled "UK Labour and Incomes Policy."[7]

Panitch 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.[7] In 2002, he was appointed Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy at York. The appointment was renewed in 2009. His research involves examining the role of the American state and multinational corporations in the evolution of global capitalism.[2]

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: from new left to new Labour. 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.[7] 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. 
  2. ^ a b "Canada Research Chairs: Leo V. Panitch". Government of Canada. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 
  3. ^ Knox, Paul. Globe and Mail. "Communism forced to travel new path: The philosophy that guided socialist parties around the world for so long today has often been stripped of its revolutionary social content." July 6, 1996, p.A12.
  4. ^ Panitch, Leo and Gindin, Sam (2012). The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire. London: Verso.
  5. ^ Panitch, Leo. Globe and Mail, "Why was Winnipeg a hotbed for radicals? The socialist culture of Jewish, working-class immigrants in the city's North End came to define the whole community. PROFILES IN DISSENT: The Shaping of Radical Thought in the West," June 28, 1997, p.D12.
  6. ^ Morton, W.L. (1950) The Progressive Party in Canada, (foreward by S.D. Clark). Toronto: University of Toronto Press.
  7. ^ a b c "Inventory of the Leo Panitch fonds". York University. Retrieved 23 January 2015. 

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