The Collapse of ‘The International Imagination’: A Critique of the Transhistorical Approach to Uneven and Combined Development
Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy
ISBN: 978-1-78560-295-5, eISBN: 978-1-78560-294-8
Publication date: 22 September 2015
Recent decades have witnessed great interest in Leon Trotsky’s idea of uneven and combined development (UCD) by Marxist scholars of International Relations (IR). A burgeoning literature has argued that one interpretation, Justin Rosenberg’s U&CD, resolves the question of ‘the international’ by offering a single, non-Realist theory capable of uniting both sociological and geopolitical factors in the explanation of social change across history. Evaluating this claim, this paper argues that the transhistorical ways in which U&CD has been developed reproduce, reaffirm and reinforce some of the more important shortcomings of Realist IR. I develop my argument through an internal critique of Rosenberg’s conception of U&CD, which, I argue, is illustrative of larger shortcomings within the literature. I conclude that the political and geopolitical economy of UCD and their dynamics must be grasped through the specific social and historical relations in which they are immersed.
I would like to thank Ian Bruff, Samuel Knafo, Frantz Gheller, Geneviève LeBaron, Ben Selwyn, Cemal Burak Tansel, Marcus Taylor and Kees van der Pijl for their insightful comments. Special thanks to Radhika Desai for her constructive suggestions and keen editorial skills. This research was funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Rioux, S. (2015), "The Collapse of ‘The International Imagination’: A Critique of the Transhistorical Approach to Uneven and Combined Development", Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy (Research in Political Economy, Vol. 30A), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 85-112. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0161-72302015000030A011
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