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Introduction: From the Neoclassical Diversion to Geopolitical Economy

Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy

ISBN: 978-1-78560-295-5, eISBN: 978-1-78560-294-8

Publication date: 22 September 2015


This introduction to the essays that follow argues that the chief problem with the dominant understanding of world affairs in the disciplines of International Relations and International Political Economy, including their Marxist versions, is an a historical, non-contradictory and economically cosmopolitan conception of capitalism. In their place, geopolitical economy is a new approach which returns to the conception of capitalism embodied in the culmination of classical political economy, Marxism. It was historical in two senses, distinguishing capitalism as a historically specific mode of social production involving by value production and understanding that its contradictions drive forward capitalism’s own history in a central way. This approach must further develop and specify uneven and combined development as the dominant pattern in the unfolding of capitalist international relations, one that is constitutive of its component states themselves. Secondly, it must understand the logic of the actions undertaken by capitalist states as emerging from the struggles involved in the formation of capitalist states and from the contradictions that are set in train once capitalism is established. Finally, it must see in the ways that class and national struggles and resulting state actions have modified the functioning of capitalism the possibilities of replacing the disorder, contestation and war that are the spontaneous result of capitalism for international relations the basis for a cooperative order in relations between states, an order which can also be the means for realising the permanent revolution and solidifying its gains on the international or world plane.




I would like to thank Jacob Assa, Alan Freeman, Paul Kellogg, James Parisot, Kees van der Pijl and Paul Zarembka for their careful engagement with earlier drafts of this Introduction which considerably improved it, while taking responsibility for remaining problems. Thanks are also due to the numerous anonymous referees – of chapters that made it in this volume and those that did not – for the critical contributions to ensuring the quality of the work here. Heartfelt thanks are also due to Niall Harney for his meticulous and invaluable help with the logistics of these volumes.


Desai, R. (2015), "Introduction: From the Neoclassical Diversion to Geopolitical Economy", Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 30A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-44.



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