Cognitive Capitalism or Cognition in Capitalism? A Critique of Cognitive Capitalism Theory


No one denies that the scale and scope of the technological development of the last 60 years are unprecedented. This includes the rapid development of microelectronics technologies and the widespread diffusion of information and communication technologies. Bio-, nano- and alternative energy technologies are emerging as new frontiers. Not only has all this changed the everyday life of ordinary people, but the economy, especially its industrial structure, has also been reshaped. Productivity for existing products has grown significantly and the pace at which new products are created has accelerated. Economy and knowledge and/or technology are integrated with each other more closely than ever before.

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Temporary Migrant Labour and the Spatial Structuring of Class in the Gulf Cooperation Council

Adam Hanieh


In the concluding pages to his Limits to Capital, David Harvey makes a powerful argument that the configuration of space needs to be understood as an ‘active constitutive moment in the dynamics of accumulation’. By this, Harvey means that the configuration of space both enables and expresses the form taken by capitalist accumulation, while simultaneously acting as a possible mechanism of crisis resolution – a process that Harvey described as a ‘spatial fix’. Capitalism is continually precipitating shifts in the relationships between different spaces – the movement of capital and labour across countries and regions, devaluation of existing fixed capital complexes in specific spaces, the creation of new class fractions and alliances across geographical zones and so forth. Through this incessant reworking of its own spatiality, capitalism lays the basis for new and expanded possibilities of accumulation. Simultaneously, contradictions begin to grow within these spatial relations – over time developing into fetters on accumulation that inevitably end in a sharp break and transition to a new configuration of space.

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Neoliberalism, the development of underdevelopment and the Latvian disease

Janis Berzins


The concept of the development of underdevelopment was originally used by Andre Gunder Frank to describe a historical process, which is the result of colonial or the neocolonial forms of economical exploitation and dependence. However, nowadays this concept must be understood in a Schumpeterian way. In the process of economic development, it is the establishment of the new paradigms of accumulation and reproduction of social wealth by leading countries. The countries not following or lately following the last developments experienced by the core countries are reproducing obsolete goods and services, in other words, developing underdevelopment. In some countries, this process may be aggravated by economic restructurisation through a process of deindustrialization concomitant with the establishment of non-dynamic unsustainable sectors as result of the activities of the financial sector. This process may be called as “The Latvian Disease”. This paper explicates this idea, showing how Latvia in the last few years faced both a process of underdevelopment and the development of underdevelopment, which would have resulted in the actual crisis with or without the international credit crunch.

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Economic Downturns, Crises and Hegemonic Transitions: What is the Relevance of Economic Downturns and Crises for Hegemonic Transitions? An Overview of Different Perspectives

Lorenzo Fusaro


The topic of “hegemonic transitions” has attracted much attention in recent years as the rate of economic growth in East Asia surpassed by far the one in the West. Based on the United States’ declining shares in global output, trade and investments at the expense of East Asia, the claim is that the centre of growth in the world economy is shifting towards the latter part of the globe, towards China in particular.

Some Nostradamuses already envisage a “Pax Sinica” where “The renminbi will displace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency; Shanghai will overshadow New York and London as the centre of finance; […] global citizens will use Mandarin as much as, if not more than, English; the thoughts of Confucius will become as familiar as those of Plato

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Fixing Crises

Ben Fine

As some of you may have guessed, I take my title from David Harvey’s notion of “fix”; that the accumulation of capital is a value process that orders and reorders (or fixes) each and every aspect of economic and social life. This is not to be rigid or deterministic. Of course, Harvey’s inspiration came from within the field of geography and has inspired considerable scholarship over and above his own, both within this discipline and others. In the first instance, as geographer, his concern was with the (re)construction of space or the built environment in the process of accumulation. Subsequently, he has discussed other fixes such as for finance, and he might also have thought of his own understandings of the new imperialism, neo-liberalism and accumulation by dispossession as contemporary fixes for the modern era.

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Editor’s Introduction Vol 2, No 1 (2010)

Faruk Yalvaç

Editor’s Introduction

This issue of Spectrum is dedicated to papers presented at the Third IIPPE (International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy) International Research Workshop which was held at the Middle East Technical University on September 14-15, 2009, Ankara. The main theme of the conference was neoliberalism and crisis. However, the papers are not restricted exclusively to this topic alone. It covers issues ranging from hegemonic transitions in periods of crisis to the importance of migrant labour in the reproduction of capitalist relations of production.

In “Fixing Crises,” Ben Fine addresses the issue of the relation between the current crisis and financialisation. He uses the concept of fix to describe how in capitalism accumulation of capital “is a process that orders and reorders (or fixes) each and every aspect of economic and social life”. Capitalism “fixes” to the extent that sometimes it betrays its own systemic principles and ideology by becoming more interventionist to overcome the effects of the contradictions involved in its application. Fine asks why a crisis emerged despite the existence of favourable conditions for capitalism and finds the answer in financialisation. It has been financialisation that allowed neoliberalism to survive for so long “pushing the virtues of free markets as the ideological representation of the interests of private capital in general and of finance in particular”.

Lorenzo Fusaro examines different approaches to hegemony in the context of “Economic Downturns, Crises and Hegemonic Transitions. He differentiates between those approaches which conceive hegemony as “hegemony over the system” from those that conceptualise it as “hegemony within the system”. The third approach is hegemonic stability theory which incorporates elements from the other two. Following Arrighi, Fusaro argues that instead of leading to decline or weakening of hegemonic powers, economic crises “induces hegemonic transitions”.

In “Neoliberalism, the development of underdevelopment, and the Latvian disease”, Janis Berzins locates the origins of the Latvian disease in the “development of underdevelopment”, a concept first coined by Andre Gunter Frank. Development of underdevelopment he argues more aptly describes the situation of Latvia compared to the idea that “neoliberalisation and the adoption of neoclassical/ monetarist policies would result in the best in terms of development”.

Adam Hanieh examines “Temporary Migrant Labour and the Spatial Structuring of Class in the Gulf Cooperation Council”. He offers an analysis of migrant labour in terms of its relation with capital accumulation and class structures. He argues that migrant labour “flows intertwine geographical spaces within a single process of accumulation” and “reflect the interlocking of sets of social relations across different zones of the world market”. Migrant flows represent a particular spatial structuring, or spatialization, of class”. For interpreting and possible resolution” of the crises, “class formation needs to be located and historicized within these spatial structures”.

In “Cognitive Capitalism or Cognition in Capitalism: A Critique of Cognitive Capitalism Theory,” Heesong Jeon underlines the lack of and the importance of developing a Marxist theory of knowledge. He offers an analysis of the relation of cognitive capitalism and Marx’s theory of value. In contrast to those who argue that this relationship does not hold, Jeon underlines the importance of a theory of knowledge (or cognition) in capitalism.

In his article, “Migration, development and the articulation of modes of production”, Abreu analyses the relation between migration and development in the context of the transition to capitalism in the countries of the South. This process is characterized by “specific forms of articulation between the capitalist and non-capitalist modes of production prevalent in a social formation.” He underlines that in analysing the relation between migration and development, the existing literature ignores the “constraining effect of the social relations of production upon the development of productive capacity”.

I would like to thank to all the writers for their valuable contributions to this issue. Especially I am indebted to Ben Fine for his invaluable support to the workshop and accepting the publication of the papers in the Spectrum. Finally, I also would like to thank to the referees to whom the articles were sent for their contribution to making this such a special issue. My special thanks to our Managing Editor Alper Haner who has worked very hard in going over the manuscripts and the footnotes several times to make this issue possible.

Editor in Chief


Empire and International Order: Should There Be States?

W. Julian Korab-Karpowicz

What should our future be like? Can the world order be organized along the lines of an international society, or will it dissolve into anarchy? Before attempting to answer such a big question, let us first inquire whether in the future there should be states.

The phrase “transnational progressivism” was coined in 2001 by John Fonte to describe a post-modernist ideology that is a new challenge to the world order based on a system of states and to liberal democracy in particular. The transnationalists argue that in the era of globalization, the transnational connection between non-state actors increase and make obsolete the traditional paradigm of governance based on the nation-state. Perhaps there is no more sophisticated theoretical expression of this ideology, which I prefer to call “global progressivism,” than Empire of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. The authors do not hide their ideological preferences and compare their book to Marx’s Communist Manifesto. However, in intellectual complexity they exceed their old master. They display a comprehensive knowledge of the Western philosophical tradition and use it to deconstruct the intellectual scaffolding that supports the modern political theory of the West. They advocate political arrangements that can be described as post-modern, post-democratic, post-liberal, and even post-human.

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Republican Discourses and Imperial Projects: Liberty and Empire in American Political Discourse

Geoff Kennedy


During his campaign for the office of the Presidency, George W. Bush stated that ‘America has never been an empire…We may be the only great power in history that had the chance, and refused.’1 During an interview on Al Jazeera on April 28, 2003, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld responded to a question regarding the perceptions of American ‘empire building’ by stating that, ‘We don’t seek empires. We’re not imperialistic. We never have been.’2 To the casual observer, this may merely be interpreted as political propaganda masking the true nature of American foreign policy; but for historians of political thought, it relates to a long-standing issue in republican political discourse: namely, the republican antagonism to forms of imperial power.

Traditionally, republicans opposed the development of ‘empire’, but not because empire was considered to be an unjust relationship of domination of one polity or society by another. Rather, empire was understood as a form of absolute and arbitrary form of domestic political domination—what the Greeks referred to as despotism—that denied the liberty of its citizens regardless of the state’s relationship to its peripheral acquisitions. The emphasis on the domestic aspect of empire is significant because in a pre-modern context characterized by unfixed territorial borders between geopolitical ‘units’, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to distinguish between processes of state formation and what we would later refer to as ‘imperialism’. Thus, the territorial aspect of pre-modern empire did not distinguish it from its republican antagonist; after all, Republican Rome could conquer and subjugate with as much force and ruthlessness as its imperial successor.

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Cultural Hegemony? The Example of Language Use in International Development Co-Operation in Tanzania/East Africa

Irmi Maral-Hanak

Aid, dependency and language use in Tanzania

The United Republic of Tanzania is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 159 (of 179) in the UNDPs Human Development Report 2007-08, with a per capita GDP of 744 US$ only.  Tanzania is a country that is highly dependent on foreign aid. In 2004, it received $ 1,75 bn in net ODA, making it the third largest recipient in Africa in absolute terms. In 2004, ODA accounted for over 16% of the GNI , and was equivalent to about 40% of government expenditure.).  More than 50 official donor agencies operate in Tanzania, the largest donors being IDA, UK and the EC. In recent years, Tanzania has been highlighted as a role-model of a country executing efficient recipient country policy, especially in the context of the Paris Declaration which stresses country ownership as well as donor alignment and harmonization. In Tanzania’s early postcolonial history, concepts of African Socialism (Ujamaa) and self-reliance played an important role, with social justice and popular participation remaining important parts of political discourse to date. Part of Tanzania’s quest for self-determination is the linguistic policy of the country. The most remarkable aspect of the linguistic situation in Tanzania is the strong position of Swahili, which is an official language spoken by more than 90% of the population. Most other Sub-Saharan African countries rely on ex-colonial languages for communication at the national level, languages that often only 5-20% of the population are familiar with. In Tanzania, although English continues to be a prestigious language of secondary and higher education, professionalism and international communication, Swahili is the primary language of interaction at the national level, being firmly established in such domains as basic education, administration, political debate and a significant part of development communication. The functions of the remaining more than 120 African languages of Tanzania are usually described as being restricted to the domain of the home, village, local informal contexts and cultural performances.

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Global and Local Rivalries in NATO’s Push Towards the Caucasus

Kees van der Pijl


The corridor that runs from the Balkans, via the Caucasus, to Central Asia, has constituted a major axis of Western penetration and expansion for the last two decades.1 Only when Georgian president Saakashvili sought to recapture the province of South Ossetia by force in August 2008, this came to an abrupt end. The Russian military response to secure South Ossetia and Abkhazia not only destroyed the Georgian army as a fighting force but also terminated the prospect of further Western expansion through NATO enlargement.

The present contribution is structured as follows. First I will briefly outline how NATO can be viewed as a means of integrating the wider ‘West’ around a North Atlantic, English-speaking heartland. The argument is that this integration always had to contest with the legacy of rivalry dating from the epoch prior to it. This can be traced back to the fact that contenders to Anglo-Atlantic military power and commercial pre-eminence have necessarily pursued state-led modernisation paths. The further we move to the East, the more difficult it appears to abandon this state-led model again. Examples are given in separate sections on the collapse of the USSR and the Balkan wars. In a fourth section I will briefly investigate how the increasingly violent forward pressure by the West, as testified by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and threats to Iran, is destabilising not only the Caucasus but the wider region. I can also safely repeat my claim, made in March 2008 before an audience in Tbilisi, that integration of Georgia into NATO would be a casus belli for Russia.

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