Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

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Class Struggle and International Economic Institutions: The Origins of the GATT and “Embedded Liberalism”

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Abstract:  If one wants to get a grasp on the international institutional arrangement of what J. G. Ruggie called “embedded liberalism,” which included the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), one must first carefully examine the conditions that made the regime of accumulation called Fordism possible. More precisely, it is essential to grasp how the particular evolution of class struggle in the US strongly influenced the organization of capitalism in this country, and subsequently the international institutions at the core of the embedded liberalism. Simply put, the thesis defended in this article is that the evolution of class struggle in the US in the 1930s and the following decades has been the main influence in the shaping of Fordism and an undervalued factor in the creation of the GATT. The GATT, in other words, is an agreement that strongly corresponds to the necessity of the management of the class struggle associated with Fordism.

Keywords:  class struggle; Fordism; GATT; regime of accumulation



© Rémi Bachand. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.