Die Theorie des kapitalistischen Weltsystems im O-Ton
Hier eine prägnante Zusammenfassung der Charakteristika des Weltsystems von Wallerstein selbst:
"a) The modern world-system is a capitalist world-economy, which means that it is governed by the drive for the endless accumulation of capital, sometimes called the law of value.
b) This world-system came into existence in the course of the sixteenth century, and its original division of labor included in its bounds much of Europe (but not the Russian or Ottoman Empires) and parts of the Americas.
c) This world-system expanded over the centuries, successively incorporating other parts of the world into its division of labor.
d) East Asia was the last large region to be incorporated, and this occurred only in the middle of the nineteenth century, after which moment however the modern world-system could be said to have become truly worldwide in scope, the first world-system ever to include the entire globe.
e) The capitalist world-system is constituted by a world-economy dominated by core-peripheral relations and a political structure consisting of sovereign states within the framework of an interstate system.
f) The fundamental contradictions of the capitalist system have been expressed within the systemic process by a series of cyclical rhythms, which have served to contain these contradictions.
g) The two most important cyclical rhythms are the 50–60 year Kondratieff cycles in which the primary sources of profit alternate between the sphere of production and the financial arena, and the 100–150 year hegemonic cycles consisting of the rise and decline of successive guarantors of global order, each one with its particular pattern of control.
h) The cyclical rhythms resulted in regular slow-moving but significant geographical shifts in the loci of accumulation and power, without however changing the fundamental relations of inequality within the system.
i) These cycles were never perfectly symmetrical, but rather each new cycle brought about small but significant structural shifts in particular directions that constitute the secular trends of the system.
j) The modern world-system, like all systems, is finite in duration, and will come to an end when its secular trends reach a point such that the fluctuations of the system become sufficiently wide and erratic that they can no longer ensure the renewed viability of the system s institutions. When this point is reached, a bifurcation will occur, and via a period of (chaotic) transition the system will come to be replaced by one or several other systems."
(Wallerstein, Immanuel: The Rise of East Asia, or The World-System in the Twenty-First Century. In: http://fbc.binghamton.edu/iwrise.htm (13.03.03))