Political Capitalism, Economic and Political Crises, and Authoritarian Statism

Bob Jessop


This contribution to Spectrum Journal is an extended version of a plenary lecture presented at the Second Spectrum conference on approaches and issues in international political economy, held at the Middle East Technical University (METU) on 10-11 April 2014. It addresses some key issues related to the overall conference theme. These are the nature of the world market, its crisis-tendencies, the capacities of states to govern the world market and manage crises, the significance of crises of crisis-management, and the increasing importance of states of economic as well as police-military-security emergency. First, in line with Karl Marx’s analysis, it begins by positing the world market as the presupposition and posit (result) of the expanded reproduction of capital accumulation. As a result, the development of the world market reflects an emergent rather than pre-given logic. Second, with Max Weber, it looks beyond the contradictions and crisis-tendencies of the pure capitalist mode of production (CMP) as analysed by Marx to those introduced by different forms of political capitalism as well as traditional commercial capitalism. Third, it considers the relation between capital and the state and its implications for economic and political struggle and crises. Fourth, it explores crises as a specific condensation of accumulating challenges that pose problems of crisis-management and, to the extent that established crisis-management routines fail, crises of crisis-management. Fifth, building on the preceding parts of the article, it explores the meaning of crises of the state and politics. Sixth, current trends in the state are identified and related to the decline of liberal democracy. The article ends with some general observations on the current economic and political crises.

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