Theoretical Engagements in Geopolitical Economy: Volume 30A
Table of contents(15 chapters)
Editorial Advisory Board
List of Contributors
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.
This piece takes issue with the deployment of Trotsky’s idea of uneven and combined development (UCD) in the Anglophone discipline of International Relations (IR). It argues that this strand of thought makes a theory out of what is really a theorem (a deduction from an axiom), whilst forgetting about the original, actual theory of which it was part, Leon Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution. IR U&CD, marketed in the discipline as International Historical Sociology (IHS), posits ‘the international’ as the field to which ‘the theory’ must be applied in order to open it up to social theorisation. This is analogous to the late-19th-century subjective turn in social science in which reality is presented as unfathomable, and rationality is merely subjective, an attribute of individual ‘actors’. ‘The international’ in this sense may be compared to ‘the market’ in neoclassical economics. Although it presents itself as Marxist, the U&CD/IHS project was part of a regressive conjuncture in Anglo-American, mainstream IR, as transpires from its attempt to position itself close to the ‘English School’ in IR. I conclude with a variation on Trotsky’s original theory, applying it to the ‘permanent counterrevolution’, of which the current war on terror is the latest stage.
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.
This paper uses Leon Trotsky’s theory of Uneven and Combined Development (UCD) in order to transcend both globalising and methodologically nationalist theories of the global political economy. While uneven development theorists working in economic geography have demonstrated the logical corollary of capitalist development and the completion of the world market in the persistence of geographic unevenness, they fail to specify or problematise the role of states in this process. This leads to an ambiguity about why the states system has persisted under conditions of deep economic integration across states. State theorists, meanwhile, tend to exclude the world market and system of states as conditioning factors in state (trans)formation. For this reason, much state theory offers only a contingent account of the relationship between patterns of capital accumulation and states’ institutional forms. Geopolitical economy, with its focus on the competitive interrelations between states as constitutive of capitalist value relations, is well placed to transcend the pitfalls of these twin perspectives by closely engaging with the theory of UCD. UCD provides a nonreductionist means of integrating global processes of capital accumulation with their distinctive and peculiar national mediations. A research programme is developed to operationalise UCD for purposes of concrete research – something lacking from recent development in the field.
This paper situates geopolitical economy in light of a broader rethinking of the history of capitalism and international power. It discusses why the ideas of British and American hegemony are problematic. Specifically, it argues that categorizing these powers as hegemonic leaves out a more complex history that theories of hegemony have excluded, and cannot include, else the concept of hegemony would collapse. Finally, I suggest geopolitical economy may be a starting point for writing a new history of capitalism and world order.
Received histories present national accounts as universal, purely economic measures based mostly on theoretical foundations. This paper argues that this is an anachronistic approach to the long and uneven development of these estimates and builds on geopolitical economy to examine national income estimates as quantifications of state power. First, it reveals national income accounts to be historically and geographically contingent rather than universal, suggesting contestation instead of any hegemony or dominance of one central ideology. Second, the economic power and motivations of nation-states, rather than economic theory, are at the core of the design of national income estimates, which are used to promote states’ position in international competition as well as advocate for particular national economic policies. The history of national accounting closely tracks the rise of the nation-state, the unique phase of British hegemony, the two World Wars, the east-west competition of the Cold War, and the north-south competition of the recent two decades. To this day, revisions to national accounting systems reflect the shifting balance of power and incessant international competition.
To discuss the historical roots of contemporary geopolitical economy, this paper aims to explore the complex and influential analysis of Tilly's formation of European national states as a predominant type of territorial political organization in contemporary world. To do this, Tilly described different eras of dominant organization of warfare in relation to state organization: patrimonialism, brokerage, nationalization, specialization. In this paper, we explore the link between the organization of military power and trade policy. We are trying to answer the question, if it is possible to credibly state a connection between the trade policy types pursued by selected states in specific historical periods and Tilly’s eras of dominant form of organization of warfare. For this purpose, we developed a typology of trade policies of important states throughout the history, using the economic history research of leading experts in the field. Our conclusion is that such a connection – between trade policy and Tilly’s eras of organization of warfare – can be made and that this connection is solidly supported by economic history. Our analysis may be of value for any critical assessment of international trade relations in contemporary geopolitical economy – and of influential cosmopolitan interpretations of the liberal trade regime of 19th century or globalization in 20th century.
The purpose of this paper is to examine processes of Eurasian integration and the veritable ‘culture war’ between Russia and the West over it, while contributing to the theoretical paradigm of geopolitical economy. This paradigm invites us to consider the multiple manifestations of an emerging multipolar world order while scrutinising the extent to which previously popular approaches to the study of international political economy were themselves enmeshed in projects, the architects of which aspired to global hegemony.
The paper employs critical historicism, an approach in which cultural difference is seen as the sedimentation of historically constituted material and ideational processes and which eschews cultural essentialism and orientalising tropes. It is through this lens that Russian state attempts at normalising Eurasian integration processes are examined.
I demonstrate that Russian state organs and officials, as well as ‘political technologists’ attempt to de-politicise processes of Eurasian integration by appealing to both the logic of cultural/civilisational compatibility of affected parties, as well as the logic of economic integration. Such portrayals invite scrutiny; however, it is important that we also consider how Eurasian integration initiatives are the product of a post-Soviet struggle over Eurasian space but represent something more than mere neo-Soviet revisionism.
The paper demonstrates its originality by situating ongoing processes of Eurasian integration within the longer post-Soviet conjuncture and amid processes of international contestation. Moreover, it situates Russian officials and political technologists as active contributors to international debates about the emerging multipolar world order.
To properly assess the relative places of China and the United States in the world system, the fact of the transformation of old, and the emergence of new, centers of capital accumulation needs to be established, and some attempt made to develop means of measuring these developments. This paper, working within the framework of Uneven and Combined Development, will suggest a new metric by which we can assess the geography of capital accumulation in the world economy, a metric with three components. The first component examines national income, both per capita and as shares of the world total. The second component refines the latter to an examination of share of world manufacturing, with a specific examination of distribution of the key sector of high-technology manufacturing. The third and final component examines the distribution of large corporations through the world economy, and introduces a new term – the relative weight of large corporations. All components of this metric suggest that key aspects of the modern economy remain “territorially bound” and clearly reveal the steady, long-term decline of the United States as the dominant center of capital accumulation, and the simultaneous emergence of new centers of capital accumulation in an increasingly multi-polar world economy.
- Publication date
- Book series
- Research in Political Economy
- Series copyright holder
- Emerald Publishing Limited
- Book series ISSN