Global capitalism is the fourth and current epoch of capitalism. What distinguishes it from earlier epochs of mercantile capitalism, classical capitalism, and national-corporate capitalism is that the system, which was previously administered by and within nations, now transcends nations, and thus is transnational, or global, in scope. In its global form, all aspects of the system, including production, accumulation, class relations, and governance, have been disembedded from the nation and reorganized in a globally integrated way that increases the freedom and flexibility with which corporations and financial institutions operate.
We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up