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…
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…
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 chapter attempts an evaluation of Lenin's economic thought from a Marxian standpoint. This chapter argues that Lenin's reading of Marx's Capital in Development of Capitalism in Russia (1899) was biased toward Ricardian or logic-historical interpretation of value, disproportionality theory of crisis as well as economic determinism, characteristic of the Second International Marxism. While admitting that Lenin overcame economic determinism and reformist politics of the Second International Marxism in his Imperialism (1917), this chapter shows that some essential elements, such as thesis of progressiveness of capitalism, stagiest or typologist conceptions of capitalism, still persisted within and after Imperialism. Moreover, this chapter argues that Lenin's Imperialism cannot be considered as a successful concretization of three latter parts of Marx's plan of critique of political economy in Grundrisse (1857), that is, State (Part 4), Foreign Trade (Part 5), and World Market Crisis (Part 6). This chapter also argues that the ambivalence of Lenin's economic thoughts and incomplete break with the Second International Marxism unexpectedly led to Stalinist thesis of state monopoly capitalism, market socialist ideas, and reformist conception of “varieties of capitalisms.”
This chapter challenges the denial of “underconsumption” – the role of consumption demand in capitalist reproduction and its paucity in crises – in contemporary Marxism…
This chapter challenges the denial of “underconsumption” – the role of consumption demand in capitalist reproduction and its paucity in crises – in contemporary Marxism. At stake are better understandings not only of crisis theory but also, inter alia, of imperialism, “reformism,” and Marx's intellectual legacy. The chapter shows how the centrality of consumption demand is underlined in the three volumes of Capital and the Grundrisse, and goes on to discuss the origins, weaknesses, and persistence of this denial. The chapter also shows that Marx did not regard underconsumption as a moralistic argument about unfulfilled need. The denial originates not in Marx but in productionism, the idea that capitalism is a system of “production for production's sake.”
Originating in the overkill of Tugan Baranowski's refutation of the Russian populists’ view that capitalist development was impossible in Russia due to lack of a home market, productionism is based on his attempt to force Marxism into the marginalist and the general equilibrium framework. Despite its antipathy with Marxism, most contemporary Marxist economics are based on it. Inevitably its adherence to Say's Law – the denial of the possibility of gluts in the market – infects the tendency to assume that capitalism's contradictions do not lie in circulation. Productionism's denial of the importance of consumption demand also rests on nonsequiturs, nondialectical thinking, and an underestimation of the contradictions in capitalism Marx identified, other than the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. The chapter ends by showing the centrality of demand in the recent historical evolution of capitalism as reconstructed by Robert Brenner, followed by a discussion of whether underconsumption is “reformist.”
This paper reassesses the center-periphery relationship in light of recent developments in the international monetary system and the currency hierarchy in a geopolitical…
This paper reassesses the center-periphery relationship in light of recent developments in the international monetary system and the currency hierarchy in a geopolitical economy framework. The center-periphery relationship has historically been examined in relation to the international division of labor, the pace and diffusion of technical progress associated with it, and the pattern of consumption it embodies. As conceived by structuralists and dependentistas, it is not seen as the result of the uneven and combined development of capitalism: it does not take into account the struggle between the dominant States (center), which want to reproduce the current order and the contender States (periphery) which aim to accelerate capitalist development to reduce the unevenness, and even to undermine the imperial project of dominant states. In a geopolitical economy framework, a powerful obstacle peripheral countries face in their efforts at combined development is the international monetary system, something that the theorists of the center-periphery relationship have perhaps overlooked. Because of its subordinate position in the currency hierarchy, the periphery is subject to greater external vulnerability, greater instability of exchange and interest rates, and as a result, enjoys a more restricted policy space. In this sense, the chapter shows that, beyond macroeconomic policies, the currency hierarchy in a context of high capital mobility limits a range of developmental policies of peripheral countries, reinforcing the unevenness of world economy and constraining combined development.
The purpose of this paper is to contribute to understanding modern monetary arrangements from a Marxist perspective that takes into account recent developments in the Marxist theory of world money. The paper treats the US dollar as a primus inter pares quasi-world money and challenges the argument of US hegemony by exploring the behavior of major capitalist states and selected developing countries, the BRICS, in so far as their official international reserves are concerned. The findings reveal a clear pattern in the behavior of major capitalist states in terms of the size and form of their reserves with the variations in them implying a hierarchical structure of the corresponding quasi-world moneys. The analysis focuses on developed countries and treats them individually. The merit of this approach, distinctive in the literature on international reserves, is that it reveals the above-mentioned pattern which is blurred when Japan is included. The results imply that current international monetary arrangements reflect and promote multipolarity and competition on the geopolitical scene, the evolution of which is historical.