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
Reviewed by Ulrich Hamenstädt
John Milios and Dimitris P. Sotiropoulos
In the contemporary literature and discussions on imperialism one will have difficulty finding theoretical propositions that do not have their roots in classical theories. In the argumentation of this paper we shall embark upon Bukharin’s critique of theories of underconsumption and “surplus capital” (in the context of his polemic with Luxemburg) and Lenin’s theory on the imperialist chain as critique of the theory of global capitalism (whose point of departure was his intervention on the national question and the socialist revolution). We shall argue that these disputes have theoretical implications which challenge the main insights of the classical approaches inviting us to think imperialism from a different standpoint.
Key words: Imperialism, Lenin, Bukharin, Marx, Imperialist Chain.
In the afterword of Capital Marx argued that his method had been little understood. In fact, Marx never really fully explained his method in one place and, moreover, Engels’ attempts to elucidate Marx’s method led to a fruitless dogmatism. Adorno claimed that science following Hegel’s death science moved into two directions: (a) a clear methodology and (b) a philosophy, disrobed of the empirical content on wish – according to Hegel – the intellect had to test itself. The aim of this article is to bridge this gap, and the dialectical method is seen as a significant point of consideration. The goal of the article is not to overcome existing problems in readings of Marx, but to approach International Political Economy (IPE) from the basis of certain neo-Gramscian approaches. In doing so, the article attempts to unpack how this can enrich the existing literature on Marx’s dialectic, including the interpretations of Adorno and Hegel. The article contains three parts. First, it provides an account of the theoretical background of neo- Gramscian IPE. The second section brings theoretical and methodological ideas together to develop a useable dialectic framework for empirical research. Last, the framework will be applied to an empirical case in politics.
Keywords: Ontological Framework, Antonio Gramsci, Dialectic, Research Design
The condition of possibility of the recent rapprochement between China and Taiwan lies in the de-politicisation of economic relations, which in turn is facilitated by a doubling of Cross-Strait relations into apparently separate spheres of civil society and politics. What drives this increasing separation, in what terms can we describe this process, and what are its consequences? This Neo- Gramscian approach traces the bifurcation across the level of ideological production to the underlying social relations. Social forces emerging from transnational relations of production forge a hegemonic project, promoting the formal separation of China-Taiwan relations into seemingly independent social realms. To achieve a critical understanding of this dynamic, the article reconstructs the strategies pursued by these forces and the mechanisms through which they operate. This historical materialist re-conceptualisation of Cross-Strait integration as a contested project rather than a quasi-natural process allows unveiling the inner contradictions and the crisis-prone nature of the specific transnational arrangement that the hegemonic project has assumed. The major internal contradiction of the project lies in the fact that its success to promote the separation of both spheres ultimately rests on an ever closer co-operation of forces from these spheres, undermining the appearance of independent spheres.
Keywords: Hegemony, Cross-Strait relations, Transnational Historical
Materialism, Gramsci, China-Taiwan relations
This article challenges essentialist conceptions of “political Islam” as the ideology of an internally generated rejection of modernity through reconceptualising Ali Shariati’s idea of “revolutionary Islam” as an internationally constituted mediation of modernity. It argues that “the international” was central to Shariati’s artful combination of western and Shi’i-Islamic ideas and concepts. This hybrid character, the article argues, underlay the remarkable political appeal of Shariati’s discourse of revolutionary Islam to broad sections of the population whose subjectivity had, in turn, been re-shaped by the ideological ramifications of the formation of the novel phenomenon of “the citizen-subject”, a hybrid sociological form produced by Iran’s experience of modern uneven and combined development.
Keywords: The Citizen-Subject, International Relations, Iran, Islam,
Shariati, Substitution, Uneven and Combined Development
This article seeks to lay the groundwork for a historical materialist foreign policy analysis. Although there is a huge Marxist literature on especially US imperialism, there is little in the way of systematic empirical research on foreign policy-making from this perspective. Most contributions in this tradition, including more recent ones in the debate on the “new imperialism” are often rather abstract exercises in grand theory – important and insightful but not necessarily directly amenable to empirical research. On the other hand, the radical empirical studies of (US) foreign policy-making that we do have often tend to suffer from a lack of adequate theorization. Seeking to bridge this gap this article first critically reviews the current (and expanding) historical materialist literature on geopolitics (and its link to global capitalism) and then seeks to move beyond that by offering an analytical framework that can be applied to actual empirical research. A theoretical point of departure is that what Harvey identifies as the territorial and capitalist logics of powers are dialectically and hence internally related. But whereas many historical materialists would agree on this abstract notion, the question, however, is not only why but also how (in practice) they are thus related, and how we can thus study the effects of this internal relation. For this, I argue, we need to go beyond positing any abstract logic(s), and analyse the concrete agency of social forces constituting the link between state and capital. I argue that class is the crucial mediating force here and the missing link in much of the literature. A focus on class and class strategy provides us with a basis for a systematic empirical analysis of the concrete processes through which geopolitical strategies of (major) capitalist states are formulated and implemented.
Keywords: Historical Materialist IR, Geopolitics and Social Structure, Capitalist Geopolitics, Class and Geopolitics, Ruling Class Security
This article looks at the possibility of a meaningful relationship between the concepts of hegemony and governmentality. It does this by applying the combined concepts to the realm of international relations and to issues of global governance. It interrogates the two concepts by looking at the conditions of possibility and modes of expression. It does this through a critical realist approach to social reality, arguing that hegemony and governmentality operate within a structures and stratified social field where they intersect and overlap. It argues that the two concepts have their own strengths and weaknesses. Hegemony is better at relating governance to underlying social relations and it emphasises the longer-term strategic element in governance projects. Governmentality is better at highlighting the rationalities that underlie forms of governance. Hegemony better helps us to understand such things as institutional context, the role of social and class forces, how particular interests are represented and how political projects are constructed. Governmentality is much better at showing us the specific techniques and technologies of power. While hegemony might provide the better link to the social context, governmentality better shows how this finds its expression in particular forms of governance. These arguments are applied to neoliberal forms of governance and used to analyse the changing role of the state in international politics. The article addresses issues of structure and agency and poses the question of how governance is constructed.
Keywords: Hegemony, Governmentality, Governance, Critical Realism, Marxism, Neoliberalism
The three-decades old call for an inter-disciplinary rapprochement between IR Theory and Historical Sociology, starting in the context of the post-positivist debate in the 1980s, has generated a proliferating repertory of contending paradigms within the field of IR, including Neo-Weberian, Post-Structuralist, and Constructivist approaches. Within the Marxist literature, this project comprises an equally rich and diverse set of theoretical traditions, including World-Systems Theory, Neo-Gramscian IR/IPE, the Amsterdam School, Political Marxism, Neo-Leninism, and Postcolonial Theory. More recently, a “third wave” of approaches has been announced from within the field of IR, suggesting to move the dialogue from inter-disciplinarity towards an integrated super-discipline of International Historical Sociology (IHS). This proposition has been most persistently advanced by advocates of the theory of Uneven and Combined Development (UCD), claiming to constitute a universal, unitary and sociological theory of IR. This article charts the intellectual trajectory of this ongoing IR/HS dialogue. It moves from a critique of Neo-Weberianism to a critique of UCD against the background of the original promise of the turn in IR to Historical Sociology: the supersession of the prevailing rationalism, structuralism, and positivism in extant mainstream IR approaches through the mobilization of alternative and non-positivistic traditions in the social sciences. This critique will be performed by setting UCD in dialogue with Political Marxism. By anchoring both approaches at opposite ends on the spectrum of Marxist conceptions of social science – respectively the scientistic and the historicist – the argument is that UCD reneges on the promise of Historical Sociology for IR by re-aligning, first by default and now by design, with the meta-theoretical premises of Neo-Realism. This is most visibly expressed in the articulation of a deductive-nomological covering law, leading towards acute conceptual and ontological anachronisms, premised on the radical de-historicisation of the fields of ontology, conceptuality and disciplinarity. This includes the semantic neutering and hyper-abstract rearticulation of the very category, which in IR’s self-perception lends legitimacy to its claim of disciplinary distinctiveness: the international. The article concludes by suggesting that an understanding of Marxism as a historicist social science subverts all calls for the construction of grand theories and, a fortiori, a unitary super-discipline of IHS, premised on a set of universal, space-time indifferent, and abstract categories that hold across the spectrum of world history. In contrast, recovering the historicist credentials of Marxism demands a constant temporalisation and specification of the fields of ontology, agency, conceptuality and disciplinarity. The objective is to lay the foundations for a historicist social science of geopolitics.
Keywords: Historical Materialism and IR Theory, International Historical Sociology (IHS), Neo-Weberianism, Uneven and Combined Development (UCD), Political Marxism (PM), Scientism vs Historicism