In the 1970s and 80s, Torkil Lauesen was a member of a clandestine communist cell which carried out a series of robberies in Denmark, netting very large sums which were then sent on to various national liberation movements in the Third World. Following their capture in 1989, Torkil would spend six years in prison. In 2016, Lauesen’s book Det Globale Perspektiv was released in Denmark. In it, he explains how he sees the world political situation today, and his thoughts about the future. In 2018, Kersplebedeb Publishing is pleased to release the English language edition of this book, translated by Gabriel Kuhn, and with a Preface by Dr. Zak Cope.
As Lauesen details, we today live in a world of massive and unprecedented inequality. Never before has humanity been so starkly divided between the “haves” and the “have nots”. Never before has the global situation been accelerating so quickly. The Third World national liberation movements of the 20th century very much triggered the liberatory movements that did manage to emerge in the First World, and seemed for an all-too-brief moment to point to an escape hatch from history’s downward spiral ... but for many today that all seems like ancient history.
The Global Perspective bridges the gap between Third Worldist theory, and the question of “What Is To Be Done?” in a First World context. It is an important contribution towards developing an effective political practice based on the realities of the global situation, avoiding the pitfalls of sugarcoating the situation with the First World populations, or of falling into pessimistic quietism. It bridges the gap not only between generations, but also between theory and practice. As Lauesen says, “It is a book written by an activist, for activists. Global capitalism is heading into a deep structural crisis in the coming decades, so the objective conditions for radical change will be present, for better or for worse. The outcome will depend on us, the subjective forces.”
What People Are Saying
“The central concerns of Lauesen’s book are the misery of the global masses and the global class structures that keep that misery in place, as well as the question: What can be done about it?” — Gernot Köhler, author of The Global Wage System: A Study of International Wage Differences and Global Economics: An Introductory Course
“There are autobiographies by radicals and there are analyses of imperialism. If you want both in one, this book is for you.” — Klaus Viehmann, auhor of Prison Round Trip
“With The Global Perspective, Torkil Lauesen is re-vitalizing important discussions on the radical left. The book offers important insights and analytical tools with which to study contemporary political and economic changes, something that is equally important for political activists and academics alike. By incorporating unequal exchange into the study of political economy, Lauesen conveys a strong case for a global perspective.” — Rasmus Alex Wendt, author of TRIPs in India: An analysis of the impact of global governance on political processes in India
“As global inequality and poverty has reached its highest apogee today, The Global Perspective is a crucial contribution to the study of imperialism and anti-imperialism, revealing that the political, economic, and military legacy of European colonial intervention remains stronger than ever. This work by Torkil Lauesen has produced a comprehensive and highly accessible contribution to understanding the history, theory and nature of imperialism for those of us searching for a practice of resistance; drawing on essential classical and modern theoretical approaches. As research and academic study of imperialism returns center stage, Lauesen vividly reveals how it maintains and increases living standards in the Global North as it grinds down 85 percent of all humanity in the Global South. The Global Perspective is an ethical call for mindfulness beyond ourselves, nations, and regions and toward the possibility a praxis for international solidarity. In this way, The Global Perspective is a very hopeful book invaluable to students of imperialism and serious practitioners of the struggle against global exploitation.” — Immanuel Ness, author of Southern Insurgency: The Coming of the Global Working Class
"With The Global Perspective Torkil Lauesen not only synthesizes the classic works of anti-imperialist political economy but joins the ranks of contemporary radical political economists, such as Robert Biel and John Smith, whose creative innovations in developing updated and integrated theories of imperialism and capitalism contribute to an understanding of the global contradictions of the current conjuncture. By recentering the Marxist theory of value, while putting it into dialogue with concepts such as the biopolitical, Lauesen injects new life into the former while transforming the latter according to materialist foundations. Alongside his whirlwind tour of anti-imperialist political economy and the current structure of global capitalism, Lauesen delivers a necessary shit-kicking to those works of political economy––both neoliberal and pseudo-radical––that have festered in the open wound of the so-called 'end of history'. Hopefully one consequence of this book is that Marxist-inclined readers will never take trash theories of 'debt economy' and 'immaterial labour' seriously again. Traversing the fault lines and lines of flight of contemporary imperialism, Lauesen cannot help but recognize, as any dedicated Marxist should, that the objective circumstances are primed for revolution but the subjective circumstances are lagging behind. The questions he raises concerning this subjective dimension, what is to be done, are necessarily controversial but, at the very least, will create openings for further debate and dialogue. As a side point I must say that it is inspiring to witness militants from the past generation of anti-imperialist struggle, who have paid a high cost for their contributions, to not only stay the course but be willing to creatively adapt to transformed circumstances." — J. Moufawad-Paul, author of The Communist Necessity, Continuity and Rupture, and Austerity Apparatus
“Torkil Lauesen’s The Global Perspective is an accessible, wide-ranging, and heartfelt overview of the theory and practice of anti-imperialism over time, written by an indomitable veteran of the struggle. It combines solid theory with illuminating personal narrative. This book can be used as an excellent introduction to the study of imperialism. But it’s also a carefully considered political summation of the anti-imperialist movement, something that will be of great interest to experienced activists. Because of the book’s impressive breadth and distinct point of view, some of its specific assertions will be controversial. But that’s part of what makes it valuable. I think that The Global Perspective is an excellent launch pad for a renewed discussion about the nature of modern imperialism—a discussion we urgently need.” Bromma, author of The Worker Elite: Notes on the ‘Labor Aristocracy’, Exodus and Reconstruction: Working-Class Women at the Heart of Globalization, and Racist ‘Anti-Imperialism’? Class, Colonialism and the Zapatistas.
About the Author
Torkil Lauesen is a longtime anti-imperialist activist and writer living in Denmark. From 1970 to 1989, he was full-time member of a communist anti-imperialist group, supporting Third World liberation movements by both legal and illegal means. He worked occasionally as a glass factory worker, mail carrier, and laboratory worker, in order to be able to stay on the dole. In connection with support work, he has traveled in Lebanon, Syria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the Philippines, and Mexico. In the 1990s, while in prison, he was involved in prison activism and received a Masters degree in political science. He is currently a member of International Forum, an anti-imperialist organization based in Denmark.
Zak Cope is co-editor of the Journal of Labor and Society and co-editor of the Palgrave Encyclopedia of Imperialism and Anti-Imperialism. His is also the author of Divided World Divided Class: Global Political Economy and the Stratification of Labour under Capitalism.