Leo Panitch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Leo Panitch

Leo Panitch.jpg
Panitch in 2012
Leo Victor Panitch

(1945-05-03)3 May 1945
Died19 December 2020(2020-12-19) (aged 75)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Known forThe Socialist Register (co-editor)
Melanie Panitch
(m. 1967)
Academic background
Alma mater
ThesisThe Labour Party and the Trade Unions (1973)
Doctoral advisorRalph Miliband[1][2]
InfluencesRalph Miliband, Karl Marx, Nicos Poulantzas
Academic work
DisciplinePolitical science
School or traditionMarxism
Main interests
Notable worksThe Making of Global Capitalism (2012)[3]
InfluencedBhaskar Sunkara[4]

Leo Victor Panitch FRSC (3 May 1945 – 19 December 2020) was a distinguished research professor of political science and a Canada Research Chair in comparative political economy at York University. From 1985 until the 2021 edition, he served as co-editor of the Socialist Register, which describes itself as "an annual survey of movements and ideas from the standpoint of the independent new left". Panitch himself saw the Register as playing a major role in developing Marxism's conceptual framework for advancing a democratic, co-operative and egalitarian socialist alternative to capitalist competition, exploitation, and insecurity.[5][6][7][page needed][8]

Since his appointment as a Canada Research Chair in 2002, Panitch focused his academic research and writing on the spread of global capitalism. He argued that this process of globalization is being led by the American state through agencies such as the US Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve. Panitch saw globalization as a form of imperialism, but argued that the American Empire is an "informal" one in which the US sets rules for trade and investment in partnership with other sovereign, but less powerful capitalist states. His book The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (2012), written with his close friend and university colleague Sam Gindin, traces the development of American-led globalization over more than a century.[5][9] In 2013, the book was awarded the Deutscher Memorial Prize in the United Kingdom for best and most creative work in or about the Marxist tradition and in 2014 it won the Rik Davidson/SPE Book Prize for the best book in political economy by a Canadian.[10][11]

Panitch was the author of more than 100 scholarly articles and nine 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) in which he argued that capitalism is inherently unjust and undemocratic.[12]

Early life and education[edit]

Panitch was born on 3 May 1945, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. He grew up in Winnipeg's North End, a working-class neighbourhood that, as he observed decades later, produced "many people of a radical left political disposition."[13] His parents were Ukrainian Jewish immigrants.[14] His father, Max Panitch, was born in the southern Ukraine town of Uscihtsa, but remained behind in Bucharest, Romania, with a fervently religious uncle when his family emigrated to Winnipeg in 1912. He was reunited with them in 1922 and by that time was well on his way to becoming a socialist and a supporter of Labor Zionism. As a sewer and cutter of fur coats (an 'aristocrat of the needle trade'), he was active in the Winnipeg labour movement and the Manitoba CCF and its successor, the New Democratic Party of Manitoba (NDP).[15][16][additional citation(s) needed]

Panitch's mother, Sarah, was an orphan from Rivne in central Ukraine who had come to Winnipeg in 1921 at the age of 13 accompanied only by her older sister, Rose. Max and Sarah married in 1930. Panitch's older brother Hersh was born in 1934.[8][17][page needed]

Panitch attended a secular Jewish school named after the radical Polish-Yiddish writer I. L. Peretz. During a conference on Jewish radicalism in Winnipeg held in 2001, Panitch said the school grew out of the socialist fraternal mutual aid societies that Jewish immigrants had established. These included the Arbeiter Ring also known as the Workmen's Circle. Panitch told the conference that its first declaration of principles, adopted in 1901, began with the words: "The spirit of the Workmen's Circle is freedom of thought and endeavour towards solidarity of the workers, faithfulness to the interests of its class in the struggle against oppression and exploitation." He added: "As such institutions multiplied and spread through the Jewish community, for a great many people and for a considerable number of decades to come, to be Jewish, especially in a city like Winnipeg, came to mean to be radical."[17][page needed]

Panitch received a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and political science in 1967 from the University of Manitoba. During his undergraduate years, he realized how much the writings of Karl Marx and the evolution of historical materialism helped him understand capitalism and its relation to the state.[9][page needed] One of his teachers, Cy Gonick, introduced him to ideas about industrial democracy in which workers would control and manage their own workplaces.[17][page needed] The 1960s generation of the New Left, Panitch writes, was impelled towards socialism by "our experience with and observation of the inequalities, irrationalities, intolerances and hierarchies of our own capitalist societies."[18][page needed]

At age 22, Panitch left Winnipeg and moved to London, England, where he earned his Master of Science degree in 1968 at the London School of Economics (LSE) and his Doctor of Philosophy degree from LSE in 1974. His doctoral thesis was entitled The Labour Party and the Trade Unions. It was published as Social Democracy and Industrial Militancy in 1976 by Cambridge University Press.[8][17][page needed][19][20] British sociologist Ralph Miliband was his Thesis advisor.[5][14]

Academic work, writing and activism[edit]

Panitch taught at Carleton University between 1972 and 1984, was a Professor of Political Science at York University from 1984, and served as Carleton Chair of the Department of Political Science from 1988 to 1994.[8] In 2002, he was appointed Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy at York. The appointment was renewed in 2009. His research involved examining the role of the American state and multinational corporations in the evolution of global capitalism.[5]

After his text The Canadian State: Political Economy and Political Power was published in 1977 by the University of Toronto Press, Panitch became the General Co-editor of its State and Economic Life book series in 1979, serving in that role until 1995. He was also co-founded the Canadian academic journal Studies in Political Economy in 1979 and played a role in establishing Carleton's Institute for Political Economy in the 1980s.[8][21][22]

He was politically active in the Movement for an Independent Socialist Canada and the Ottawa Committee for Labour Action, the two main organizational successors to The Waffle after it was expelled from the NDP in the early 1970s. In the 1980s, he was a regular columnist ("Panitch on Politics") for the independent socialist magazine, Canadian Dimension, and remained active in socialist political circles, in particular the Socialist Project in Toronto. He was inducted as an Academic Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1995, and was also a member of the Marxist Institute and the Committee on Socialist Studies as well as the Canadian Political Science Association.[8][23][24]

In addition to the 33 annual volumes of the Socialist Register he edited from 1985, he was the author of over 100 scholarly articles and nine books, including From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms; A Different Kind of State: Popular Power and Democratic Administration; The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour; American Empire and the Political Economy of Global Finance; and In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives.[8][19] Panitch saw the Register as a crucial link between the politics of the New Left and those of Raplph Miliband, his mentor and the 1946 founder of the journal. As editor, Panitch strove to produce works that were at once easily readable in prose and difficult to digest in content.[25]

At the "Globalization, Justice and Democracy" symposium at Delhi University on 11 November 2010), Panitch drew on his book In and Out of Crisis (with Greg Albo and Sam Gindin). The book and symposium argued that the left's lack of ambition during the global economic crisis was more debilitating than its lack of capacity. He outlined immediate reforms that could lead to fundamental changes in class relations, including nationalizing banks to turn them into public utilities; demanding universal public pensions to replace private, employer-sponsored ones; and free health care, education and public transit to escape capitalism's drive to turn public needs into marketable, profit-generating commodities.[26]

Personal life[edit]

Panitch married Melanie Pollock of Winnipeg in 1967. She is a longtime activist and human rights advocate who teaches in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University in Toronto. In 2006, Melanie Panitch earned a doctorate in social welfare from the City University of New York. Her thesis, on the history of the Canadian Association for Community Living, focused on mothers' campaigns to close institutions and gain human rights for disabled Canadians. In 2007, it was published as Disability, Mothers and Organization: Accidental Activists.[27][28]

The Panitches had two children. Maxim is a photographer, writer, and Scrabble champion, while Vida is a philosophy professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.[29][30]

Panitch spoke three languages: English, French, and Yiddish. He and his wife lived in Toronto, Ontario.[8]

Leo Panitch died on 19 December 2020, of viral pneumonia associated with COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, which he contracted in hospital while receiving treatment for multiple myeloma.[31][32][33]



  • The Socialist Challenge Today (co-authored with Sam Gindin), Merlin Press: 2018[25]
  • The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire (co-authored with Sam Gindin), Verso: 2012[25]
  • In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives (co-authored with Greg Albo and Sam Gindin), PM Press: 2010[34]
  • Renewing Socialism: Transforming Democracy, Strategy and Imagination, Merlin Press: 2008[31]
  • From Consent to Coercion: The Assault on Trade Union Freedoms (co-authored with Donald Swartz), University of Toronto Press: 2003[35]
  • The End of Parliamentary Socialism: From New Left to New Labour (2nd edition) (co-authored with Colin Leys), Verso: 2001[31]
  • Working Class Politics in Crisis: Essays on Labour and the State, Verso: 1986[36]
  • The Canadian State: Political Economy and Political Power, University of Toronto Press: 1977[25]


  • Superintending Global Capital (co-authored with Sam Gindin), New Left Review 35, 2005[37]
  • Global Capitalism and American Empire (co-authored with Sam Gindin), Socialist Register 40, 2004 [38]
  • The New Imperial State, New Left Review 2, 2000[39]
  • The Impoverishment of State Theory, Socialism and Democracy 13, no. 2, 1999[40]
  • Globalisation and the State, Socialist Register 30, 1994[41]
  • Trade Unions and the Capitalist State, New Left Review 125, 1981[42]
  • Dependency and Class in Canadian Political Economy, Studies in Political Economy 6, no. 1, 1981[43]
  • Recent Theorizations of Corporatism: Reflections on a Growth Industry, The British Journal of Sociology 31, no. 2, 1980[44]
  • The Development of Corporatism in Liberal Democracies, Comparative Political Studies 10, no. 1, 1977[45]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Hurl & Christensen 2016, p. 183.
  2. ^ Panitch, Leo (August 7, 2014). "Interview – Leo Panitch". E-International Relations. Interviewed by Fletcher, Louis. Archived from the original on December 22, 2020. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  3. ^ Palmer 2017, p. 326.
  4. ^ "Friday March 8, 2019 Full Transcript". The Current. CBC Radio. March 8, 2019. Archived from the original on July 18, 2019. Retrieved 2020-12-22.
  5. ^ a b c d "Canada Research Chairs: Leo V. Panitch". Government of Canada. Archived from the original on 23 January 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Socialist Register". Socialist Register. Archived from the original on 9 February 2015. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  7. ^ Panitch 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Charters, Susan, ed. (2015). Canadian Who's Who. Vol. XLVIII. Third Sector Publishing; University of Toronto Press. p. 936. ISBN 978-1-928170-01-3. ISSN 0068-9963.
  9. ^ a b Panitch & Gindin 2012.
  10. ^ "Past Recipients". Deutscher Memorial Prize. Archived from the original on 27 February 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015.
  11. ^ "Book Prize in Political Economy". Studies in Political Economy. Archived from the original on March 31, 2015. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  12. ^ Panitch 2008; Panitch & Gindin 2012.
  13. ^ Panitch, Leo (June 28, 1997). "Why Was Winnipeg a Hotbed for Radicals?". The Globe and Mail. Toronto. p. D12.
  14. ^ a b "Beloved teacher and public thinker Leo Panitch has died of COVID-19". thestar.com. 2020-12-21. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  15. ^ "Manitoba History: The Jewish Community of Winnipeg and the Federal Election of 1935 in Winnipeg North". www.mhs.mb.ca. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  16. ^ "Leo Panitch (1945–2020)". jacobinmag.com. Retrieved 2020-12-26.
  17. ^ a b c d Panitch 2003.
  18. ^ Panitch 2008.
  19. ^ a b "Inventory of the Leo Panitch fonds". York University. Archived from the original on 19 September 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2015.
  20. ^ "Leo Panitch (Bio and Stories)". Parkland Institute. Archived from the original on April 6, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  21. ^ Panitch 1977.
  22. ^ "Socialist savant: Leo Panitch (1945-2020)". canadiandimension.com. 2021-01-18. Retrieved 2021-05-12.
  23. ^ "Leo Panitch". Fernwood Publishing. Archived from the original on April 2, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  24. ^ "Canadian Dimension, about us". Canadian Dimension. Archived from the original on March 20, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  25. ^ a b c d Maher, Stephen (23 December 2020). "Leo Panitch and the Socialist Project". Jacobin Magazine. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  26. ^ Leo Panitch. "Web Transcript" (PDF). socialistproject.ca. Archived (PDF) from the original on September 24, 2015. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
  27. ^ "School of Disability Studies". Ryerson University. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  28. ^ "Disability, Mothers, and Organization: Accidental Activists". Routledge. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  29. ^ "Artist's Book of the Moment". Art Gallery of York University. Archived from the original on April 19, 2015. Retrieved April 18, 2015.
  30. ^ "Profile: Vida Panitch". Carleton University. Archived from the original on 2017-12-10. Retrieved 2017-09-02.
  31. ^ a b c Chibber, Vivek (22 December 2010). "Leo Panitch (1945–2020)". Jacobin Magazine. Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  32. ^ Jiang, Kevin (December 21, 2020). "Beloved teacher and public thinker Leo Panitch has died of COVID-19". Toronto Star. Archived from the original on December 21, 2020. Retrieved December 21, 2020.
  33. ^ Solty, Ingar (24 December 2020). "Leo Panitch Was a Mentor for a New Generation of Socialists". Jacobin magazine. Retrieved 25 December 2020.
  34. ^ Albo, Gregory; Gindin, Sam; Panitch, Leo (2010). In and Out of Crisis: The Global Financial Meltdown and Left Alternatives. PM Press. ISBN 978-1-60486-212-6.
  35. ^ Panitch, Leo; Swartz, Donald (23 August 2008). From Consent to Coercion. ISBN 978-1-4426-0096-6.
  36. ^ Panitch, Leo (1986). Working-class Politics in Crisis: Essays on Labour and the State. Verso. ISBN 978-0-86091-142-5.
  37. ^ Panitch, Leo; Gindin, Sam (2004). "Superintending Global Capital". Socialist Register. 40: 1–41.
  38. ^ Panitch, Leo; Gindin, Sam (2004). "Global Capitalism and American Empire". New Left Review. 35: 101–123.
  39. ^ Panitch, Leo (2000). "The new imperial state". New Left Review. 2: 5–20.
  40. ^ Panitch, Leo (1999). "The impoverishment of state theory". Socialism and Democracy. 13 (2): 19–35. doi:10.1080/08854309908428242.
  41. ^ Panitch, Leo (1994). "Globalisation and the state". Socialist Register. 30: 60–93.
  42. ^ Panitch, Leo (1981). "Trade unions and the capitalist state". New Left Review. 125: 21–43.
  43. ^ Panitch, Leo (1981). "Dependency and class in Canadian political economy". Studies in Political Economy. 6 (1): 7–33. doi:10.1080/19187033.1981.11675699.
  44. ^ Panitch, Leo (1980). "Recent theorizations of corporatism: reflections on a growth industry". The British Journal of Sociology. 31 (2): 159–187. doi:10.2307/589686.
  45. ^ Panitch, Leo (1977). "The development of corporatism in liberal democracies". Comparative Political Studies. 10 (1). doi:10.1177/001041407701000104.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

Preceded by Deutscher Memorial Prize
With: Sam Gindin
Succeeded by