Contrived Civilizations The Western Eurasian Mode of Hierarchies Production and the (Geo)Political Origins of Scientia

Gennaro Ascione

Abstract

In this article I expose the idea that modernity is not only a distinctive era as historical sociology uses to think, neither only a discursive formation, as anti-foundational postcolonial critique assesses. It is rather a configuration of a Western Eurasian mode of hierarchies production with global projection that first emerged as a response to the cultural, political and geopolitical challenges that the reconfiguration of power in XIII century Mediterranean space posed to dominant strata of Latin Christianity. In order to explore the conjectural emergence and reconfiguration of this mode of hierarchies production, I reconstruct the nexus of continuity and discontinuity between modern science and late medieval Scientia.
Key Words: Modernity, Circulation of Knowledge, Eurocentrism, Scientific Revolution, Aristotelianism, Averroism

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Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualising agency of resistance

Andreas Bieler

Abstract

Class struggle in times of crisis: conceptualizing agency of resistance. While movements of resistance against neo-liberal globalization have increasingly become subject of analysis, there is little agreement on how to conceptualize such agency. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to a conceptualization of resistance in order to understand better the possibilities of success, but also obstacles to more decisive action against global capitalism.
The paper will first discuss why it is important to draw on historical materialism in this respect in order to comprehend the historical specificity of capitalism. In a second step, it is argued that divisions along ethnicity and gender can be incorporated into analyses of class struggle, before suggesting four concrete ways of how to conceptualize expanded forms of class struggle including (1) Robert Cox’s focus on non-established, informal labor; (2) Harry Cleaver’s emphasis on the ‘social factory’; (3) Kees van der Pijl’s analysis of the extension of exploitation into the sphere of social reproduction; and (4) Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s grounding of analysis in the experience of the most exploited female workers in the Global South.

Keywords: Historical Materialism, Global Capitalism, Agency of Resistance, Class Struggle

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After the Crisis: Global Capitalism and the Critique of Political Economy

Hugo Radice

Abstract

Since the global financial crisis of 2008-9, neoliberalism has proved to be remarkably resilient. Alternatives in economic policy and political philosophy alike have found little resonance, despite street protests and insurgent parties of left and right in countries hit hardest by austerity. This essay focuses on Marxist and related analyses. It is argued first that Marxism has suffered from a separation between its analysis of capitalism as an economic system, and contemporary critiques of the political and social order, notably over the question of class. Marxist analyses of class have thus far failed to reconcile the traditional view of a two-class society with the complex social differentiations evident in capitalism. It is suggested that the unity of the working class arises not from its subordination to capital as such, but from the directly social character of the labour process in its material (use-value) aspect. In order to challenge capitalism, its critics need to explicitly propose an alternative social order based on equality, social justice, collective action and internationalism.
Key Words: Global Capitalism, Marxist Political Economy, Class Theory and Class Politics, Banking Crisis of 2007-2008

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A Cultural Political Economy of Financial Imaginaries: the (Re-)Making of ‘BRIC’ and the Case of China

Ngai-Ling Sum

Abstract

This article explores the role of economic/financial imaginaries (e.g., BRIC) from a cultural political economy (CPE) perspective. It is divided into four parts. Part one identifies some key questions from a CPE entry-point regarding the construction of economic imaginaries. Part two examines the role of (trans-)national forces in making and remaking the ‘BRIC’ (Brazil, Russia, India and China) as a ‘growth’ and ‘hope’ object over three overlapping stages. It notes that the national and transnational resonance of the BRIC imaginaries depends not only on developments in the financial and real economies but also on specific discourses, practices, and knowledge technologies. Part three examines how the ‘BRIC’ discourses are recontextualized in the Sinophone world as ‘four golden brick countries’ to signify ‘strength’ and ‘greatest at last’. Part four investigates how China, as one of the ‘golden bricks’, was eager to showcase its strength following the 2007 financial crisis, which led to a fall in China’s exports and rise in unemployment.. It promoted a vast stimulus package that has posed tremendous fiscal challenges, especially to its regional-local authorities, which increasingly rely on land as collateral for loans and source of revenue. This intensified land-based accumulation, inflating the ‘property bubble’ and stimulating land clearance/dispossession. In turn this has had very uneven effects on the ‘subaltern south’, illustrated here through impact on the aspirant middle class and migrant workers’ children. Though some measures have been taken to dampen the property market, they have been rather limited and social unrest continues. Part five ends with some comments on the contribution of the cultural political economy approach in understanding the role of ‘BRIC’ as well as other new acronyms such as ‘MINT’ and ‘MIST’ as economic imaginaries.
Key Words: Cultural Political Economy, Financial Imaginaries, BRIC, China

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What International Organizations Do, and Why They Do It

Paul Cammack

Abstract

International organizations work to develop production and exchange (and productivity and competitiveness) on a global scale, in ways that vary from time to time in accordance with the state of the world market as a whole and from place to place in accordance with the situation of individual states. In recent decades the focus on productivity and competitiveness on a world-wide scale has intensified, prompting a conjunctural focus on responses to the ‘global financial crisis’, and a deeper strategic focus on ‘structural reforms’. The latter focus on extending global value chains, promoting industrial policy, pursuing the formalization of labour, reforming labour markets and social protection, and lowering barriers to trade, in ways that reflect the ‘completion of the world market’ in terms of exchange. Against this background the World Bank’s 2015 World Development Report, Mind, Society and Behavior, exemplifies the principal objective of current global policy – to induce people around the world to conform in thought and behaviour to the requirements of globally competitive capitalism. It is seen as the logical culmination and the cutting edge of twenty-five years of increasingly focused and coordinated work on the part of the international institutions charged with governing the global economy.

Key Words: International Organizations, the World Market, WDR 2015, Poverty and Development

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Neoliberal Nightmares

Japhy Wilson

Abstract

Neoliberalism died in the financial crisis of 2008. But it has risen from the grave. This uncanny persistence has coincided with an increased interest in gothic themes in the realms of popular culture and critical political economy. This paper presents a psychoanalytic diagnosis of this unsettling scenario. Gothic monsters are identified as symptoms of the Real of Capital as an abstract form of domination. Neoliberalism is then theorised as a form of obsessional neurosis, which evolves through its failed attempts to conceal the traumatic dimensions of the Real of Capital. This argument is illustrated through the strange case of the celebrity development economist Jeffrey Sachs, and his peculiar transformation from Dr Shock into Mr Aid. I conclude with some reflections on the nightmarish phenomenon of zombie neoliberalism.

Key Words: Neoliberal ideology, Spectres of Capital, Economics of Anxiety, Washington consensus, Financial Crisis of 2008

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Hegemony in the Making: TÜSİAD’s Hegemonic Role in the Context of Turkey’s EU Membership Process

Özge Yaka

Abstract

This article aims at a critical contribution to neo-Gramscian political economy literature on agency of transnational capitalist class in shaping the global socio-economic order through the empirical analysis of hegemonic agency of TÜSİAD (Turkish Industry and Business Association) in formation of EU membership as a hegemonic project in Turkey in the first half of the 2000s. Drawing Poulantzas close to Gramsci and using his distinction between the power bloc and the dominated classes/groups, it introduces the notion of double moments of hegemony, which marks a comprehensive and multi-dimensional understanding of hegemony as a process involving two interrelated moments – within the power bloc and over a class-divided society. This conceptual contribution helps us to depict the political agency of transnational capitalist class in the making of the neoliberal mode of regulation, beyond its economic role in shaping the regime of accumulation. This conception not only provides an alternative against the conventional notion of hegemony within the neo-Gramscian IPE as limited with the processes, alliances, compromises and struggles within the power bloc but also contributes to the broader field of Gramscian studies in terms of analysing the strategic-agential dimension in the making of hegemony, focusing on the (material and discursive) means and mechanisms in which hegemony is produced and maintained. A Gramscian analysis of TÜSİAD as a hegemonic agent, a political party and a collective organic intellectual builds on an empirical research on those means and mechanisms utilized in shaping the EU membership as a hegemonic project.

Keywords: TÜSİAD, Turkey-EU relations, hegemony, hegemonic project, neo-Gramscian IPE.

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