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International Relations Marxism
by
Gareth Dale

Introduction

Although Marxism has had a good deal to say about historically evolving structures that transcend national borders, the relationship between Marxists and the academic discipline of international relations (IR) has not been straightforward. Constituted by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the third quarter of the 19th century as a critical and holistic methodology, Marxism maintains that political relationships are conditioned by, and can only be comprehended in their connection to, modes of surplus extraction. By contrast, IR, arising half a century later, manifests the distinctions between economics and politics, between domestic and foreign, and between world economy and world order. The key terms in Marxist IR discourse, historically, have been “imperialism,” “dependency,” “hegemony,” and “empire.” One of the defining periods in the development of Marxist thought on international relations occurred immediately before and during World War I, when “imperialism” emerged as the master term, a place it yielded, following World War II, to “dependency.” In the 1990s and the 2000s, however, an interest in imperialism returned, although the term competed for primacy with “hegemony,” favored especially by authors from the world-systems and neo-Gramscian schools, and with “empire,” a term given a distinctive twist in the best-selling book of that name. There are several distinguishing features of Marxist approaches to international relations. First, they subject prevailing categories, such as “anarchy” or the “balance of power,” to critique, seeking to uncover their historical and sociological foundations. Second, as a materialist philosophy, Marxism accords explanatory primacy to a society’s “mode of production” as the key to understanding its systems of power and belief. Third, Marxist approaches tend to conceive of society dialectically, as a totality whose contradictions yield continual change. Contradictions within historical processes are conceptualized at high levels of abstraction (e.g., between productive forces and a particular configuration of production relations) as well as in the form of real historical struggles. A final defining feature of Marxist thought is that the purpose of understanding the international system is wedded to that of its radical transformation.

Textbooks and Readers

There are no textbooks geared specifically to the teaching of Marxist international relations (IR), but a wide variety of student-friendly books and book chapters fills the gap. These include chapters in standard IR textbooks, such as Burchill, et al. 2001, Rupert 2007a, and Rupert 2007b, which provide accessible introductions to the subject. The closest approximation to textbooks are, on theories of imperialism, Anthony Brewer’s classic survey (Brewer 1990) and, on international political economy, Bill Dunn’s Global Political Economy (Dunn 2009). A number of collections of 19th- and 20th-century Marxist writings on imperialism and dependency exist; the most comprehensive and/or judicious collections are Chilcote 2000 and Cain and Harrison 2001. Alison Ayers has edited a notable collection of essays on neo-Gramscian IR theory (Ayers 2008). Finally, for a window onto 21st-century debates on Marxist IR, the indispensable reader is Anievas 2010.

  • Anievas, Alexander. Marxism and World Politics: Contesting Global Capitalism. London: Routledge, 2010.

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    Fourteen essays by scholars involved in the major debates of the 2000s. Themes include the renaissance of historical materialism in IR theory; geopolitics of capitalist modernity; relationship between capitalism and the international system; Gramsci, passive revolution, and transnational capital; uneven and combined development.

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  • Ayers, Alison J., ed. Gramsci, Political Economy, and International Relations Theory: Modern Princes and Naked Emperors. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

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    Edited collection of critical reflections upon neo-Gramscian theory, including essays by Alfredo Saad-Filho and Mustapha Kamal Pasha.

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  • Brewer, Anthony. Marxist Theories of Imperialism: A Critical Survey. 2d ed. London: Routledge, 1990.

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    The best-known English-language textbook on imperialism. Panoramic survey of the field. Includes excurses on non-Marxist theories, such as “free trade imperialism.”

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  • Burchill, Scott, Richard Devetak, Andrew Linklater, Matthew Paterson, Christian Reus-Smit, and Jacqui True. Theories of International Relations. 4th ed. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave, 2001.

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    Includes chapter on Marxism by Andrew Linklater; also Richard Devetak on Marxian currents within “critical theory.”

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  • Cain, Peter J., and Mark Harrison, eds. Imperialism: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. 3 vols. London: Routledge, 2001.

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    The most comprehensive compilation of writings on imperialism, largely but not exclusively Marxist. Vol. 1: Marx’s journalistic writings on India; excerpts from Kautsky, Hilferding, Lenin, and Bukharin. Vol. 2: excerpts from dependency and world-systems theorists, including Immanuel Wallerstein and Samir Amin. Vol. 3: cultural critiques; of only tangential relevance to IR.

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  • Chilcote, Ronald H., ed. Imperialism: Theoretical Directions. Amherst, NY: Humanities, 2000.

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    Student-friendly reader, including sections on legacies of Marx and Lenin, dependency theory, and essential texts by Paul Baran, Amilcar Cabral, A. G. Frank, Fernando Enrique Cardoso, and Prabhat Patnaik.

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  • Dunn, Bill. Global Political Economy: A Marxist Critique. London: Pluto, 2009.

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    International political economy (IPE) textbook. Comprehensive but concise. Surveys global political economy, with sections on the various IPE theories, including “critical IPE” and Marxism; also sections on international financial institutions and global governance.

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  • Rupert, Mark. “Marxism.” In International Relations Theory for the Twenty-First Century: An Introduction. Edited by Martin Griffiths, 35–46. London: Routledge, 2007a.

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    A short introduction by an eminent scholar from the neo-Gramscian school of IR.

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  • Rupert, Mark. “Marxism and Critical Theory.” In International Relations: Discipline and Diversity. 2d ed. Edited by Tim Dunne, Milja Kurki, and Steve Smith, 148–165. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007b.

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    Another short introduction by this eminent scholar from the neo-Gramscian school of IR.

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Online Library

A well-organized, accessible and ever-expanding nonprofit public library, the Marxists Internet Archive contains the writings of some six hundred authors in forty-five languages. The stated aim is “to maintain an archive of any and all writings which are Marxist or relevant to the understanding of Marxism and can be lawfully published.” Includes a “student’s section,” a searchable encyclopedia, and “special subject” sections, covering, inter alia, anti-imperialism in Africa, war and military science, and political economy. Generally very reliable, but there are occasional scanning-related typographical errors (e.g., “capitalism jives” for “capitalism lives”).

Journals

Some research on Marxist international relations (IR) is published in general IR journals that otherwise are more often concerned with international political economy or organizations. For example, the Cambridge Review of International Affairs devoted a special issue to Marxist IR theory in 2007. The Journal of World-Systems Research regularly publishes IR-related articles by Marxist and “neo-Marxist” authors. Long-standing British-based journals include Capital and Class and New Left Review, as well as International Socialism, which organizes the annual “Marxism” conference in London. Their North American counterparts of note include Socialist Register and Monthly Review. A later arrival is Historical Materialism, which holds annual conferences in London and Toronto.

Advocates and Critics

The intellectual interests of the founders of Marxism, Karl Marx and his lifelong collaborator Friedrich Engels, cover a wide range of disciplines. The most notable of these are philosophy and political economy, but the subject matter of what was later to become known as international-relations studies is present too. Their followers included a number of European communists and social democrats who, writing in the run-up to or immediate aftermath of World War I, advanced influential theories of imperialism and world order. Throughout its history, Marxism has exhibited factious tendencies, dividing into a number of currents, of which “official Communism” (sometimes referred to as Stalinism), Eurocommunism, Maoism, Trotskyism, and “Western Marxism” are the best known.

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

The contributions made by Marx and Engels to the field of international relations (IR) did not take the form of a systematic inquiry, but are present in various guises throughout their oeuvre. In The Communist Manifesto (Marx and Engels 1983) one finds an early statement on world-historical proclivities of the capitalist mode of production: its dynamism, expansionism, subordination of agrarian regions to industrialized states, and the drive to subsume other modes of production. In the Grundrisse (Marx 1993). Marx elaborates upon these theses and notes that “the tendency to create the world market is directly given in the concept of capital itself” (p. 408). The most complete development of Marx’s position appears in Capital (Marx 1976–1981). Although sometimes presumed to be an analysis of capitalism within a nation-state, its three volumes in fact proffer a conceptual apparatus designed to comprehend the essential features of the capitalist mode of production, considered in the abstract. They include analysis of those “laws of accumulation”—including capital concentration, centralization, and competition—that were to become centerpieces in later Marxist theorization of imperialism. Marx and Engels did write upon the nature and form of state power, albeit not systematically. The core contention is that it is in “the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the immediate producers” that “we find the hidden basis of . . . the political form of the relationship of sovereignty and dependence, in short the specific form of state” (Capital, Vol. 3, p. 927). In Marx’s account, capitalism is a system built upon a unique relationship of production—between owners of means of production and free workers—such that the exploitation relation does not rely upon direct coercion within structures of personal obligation or ownership. The reconstitution of surplus extraction as a private activity, as “economics,” enables the redefinition of political power as a public communal space. The kernel of this theory appeared in Marx’s early writings, such as “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right” (Marx 1977), and was developed in later works. In addition to theorizing capital and the state, Marx and Engels’s writings explore a range of IR-relevant themes, including the origins and nature of nationalism, the relationship between bourgeois revolution and war, and the history of empires (Austria-Hungary, Ottoman, czarist Russia). A touchstone in recent discussion has been Marx’s journalistic writings on India, in which he addresses questions of economic progress and national revolt (Marx 1973).

  • Marx, Karl. “A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right.” In Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Edited by Joseph O’Malley, 129–142. London: Cambridge University Press, 1977.

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    Early theorization of the relationship between state and civil society. First published in 1844.

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  • Marx, Karl. “Articles on India and China.” In Surveys from Exile. Political Writings 2. Edited by David Fernbach 301-333. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1973.

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    Contributions to the New York Daily Tribune, detailing Britain’s plundering of the Indian subcontinent and exhorting its indigenous inhabitants to “throw off the English yoke.” Originally published in 1853.

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  • Marx, Karl. Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Translated by Ben Fowkes. 3 vols. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1976–1981.

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    Marx’s masterwork, in three volumes. Begins with the commodity form and moves incrementally toward more concrete levels of determination. Marx’s intention of adding further volumes dealing with, inter alia, the state and the world market, remained unfulfilled. Originally published in 1863.

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  • Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. Manifesto of the Communist Party. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1983.

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    Foundational text of the communist movement; a call to arms. Noted for its visionary analysis of the globalization drive inherent in capital. Originally published in 1848.

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  • Marx, Karl. Grundrisse: Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy. Translated by Martin Nicolaus. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1993.

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    A central work in Marx’s oeuvre; in certain respects a draft of Capital. Originally published in 1857–1858.

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Theorizing Imperialism

Writing in an age of relative peace between the Great Powers, imperialism and war were secondary concerns for Marx and Engels. But the next generation of Marxist theorists was born into a different era, marked by globalization, nationalism, protectionism, mercantilism, and war. “Imperialism” had come into common usage, referring to the militaristic turn in the foreign policies of the Great Powers, and they made it their own. Common to most of them was the general contention that capitalism, in Rosa Luxemburg’s words, was “sweeping away all superannuated, pre-capitalistic methods of production and society” such that capitalist-geopolitical expansion was no longer about the partition of the globe but its repartition (Luxemburg 1951). The seminal text was Finance Capital (Hilferding 1981), by the Austrian Social Democrat Rudolf Hilferding. Basing his observations largely upon Germany and its neighbors, but also the United States, Hilferding explored the links between new business organization, capital export, and geopolitical rivalry. Upon the outbreak of World War I, the “Second International” of socialist parties overturned its longstanding opposition to war. Karl Kautsky produced a controversial article, Kautsky 1970, that mooted the prospect of postwar “ultra-imperialism,” whereby the major powers would agree to bury their differences and form the geopolitical equivalent of a cartel. For Marxist theory, the implication was that inter-imperialist conflict was contingent, rather than an essential trait of capitalist geopolitics. In response to the outbreak of war, Lenin produced his famous pamphlet “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism” (Lenin 1964). Imperialism, for him, is conceptualized as a new phase of capitalism in which a new mercantilism yields a rivalrous, militaristic international order. Contemporaneously with Lenin, Nikolai Bukharin developed a similar, albeit more systematically theorized, position (Bukharin 1973). If uneven development lay at the heart of Lenin’s understanding of imperialism, it was also to become a central concern for their fellow Bolshevik Leon Trotsky. Whereas Marx and Engels had anticipated that late-developing capitalist nations would see in the most advanced nation, Britain, “a picture of their own future,” Trotsky 1971 argued otherwise. Conditions in Russia hardly seemed propitious for industrialization. And yet backwardness is not without advantages. Institutions and practices that are successful elsewhere can be emulated. Technologies developed laboriously by others can be rapidly assimilated. Under pressure of military competition with more advanced powers, development in Russia involved the “combination” of different stages, producing amalgams of the archaic and the ultramodern: “uneven and combined” development. Resort was made to state power, a central element in what the Italian revolutionary Antonio Gramsci referred to as “passive revolution” (Gramsci 1971, Gramsci 1995).

  • Bukharin, Nikolai. Imperialism and World Economy. London: Merlin, 1973.

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    Pamphlet, by one of the Bolshevik party’s most original thinkers, designed to explain the capitalist nature of World War I and to refute Kautsky. Pioneering disquisition on the interaction between national economic consolidation and the internationalization of capital. Criticized for overstating tendencies to international conflict, state capitalism, and suppression of domestic competition. Originally published in 1915.

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  • Gramsci, Antonio. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci. Translated by Quintin Hoare and Geoffrey Nowell Smith. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1971.

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    Writings from prison by the Italian Communist Party leader. Of interest to IR in particular due to the concepts “passive revolution” and “hegemony.” The latter, used by Lenin to indicate proletarian political leadership, is adapted by Gramsci to refer to domination through combined force and consent, and extended, albeit rarely, to international relations, such as French attempts to establish hegemony in 19th-century Europe. Originally published in 1929–1935.

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  • Gramsci, Antonio. Further Selections from the Prison Notebooks. Edited and translated by Derek Boothman. London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1995.

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    Includes treatments of prewar European hegemony, the rise of the United States, colonialism, and tariff policy. Originally published 1929–1935.

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  • Hilferding, Rudolf. Finance Capital: A Study of the Latest Phase of Capitalist Development. Translated by Morris Watnick and Sam Gordon. London: Routledge, 1981.

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    Theorizes the new phase of capitalism dominated by corporations and cartels, entailing subordination of industry to finance, with banks as orchestrators, encouraging monopolization and a defensive approach domestically, but exporting offensives abroad. Imperialism as the policy of finance capital. Predicts war between Germany and Britain/France. Originally published in 1910.

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  • Kautsky, Karl. “Ultra-imperialism.” New Left Review 59 (1970): 41–46.

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    Article originally published in Die Neue Zeit, written upon outbreak of World War I. Proposes that a likely outcome of the war is the peaceful federation of the Great Powers. Criticized for predicting the end of imperialist conflict and competitive arms buildup. Originally published in 1914.

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  • Lenin, Vladimir Ilych. “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism: A Popular Outline.” In Collected Works. Vol. 22. By Vladimir Ilych Lenin. Moscow: Foreign Languages, 1964.

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    Polemical intervention designed to explain causes of World War I and reorient the socialist movement. Its original contribution is the idea of international conflict as an inescapable companion of modern capitalist development; geopolitics of uneven economic development and its political consequences. Criticized for assuming capitalism was in its death throes, and for overemphasizing the “five trends.” Originally published in 1916.

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  • Luxemburg, Rosa. The Accumulation of Capital. Translated by Agnes Schwarzschild. London: Routledge, 2003

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    Weighty intervention into Marxist economic and IR theory by the German Communist leader. Particularly relevant to IR in its focus on the relationship between capitalist states and the noncapitalist periphery—the former, as a bloc, has an existential imperative to dominate the latter. Also explores how weaker states become integrated into the world capitalist system on disadvantageous terms. Originally published in 1913.

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  • Trotsky, Leon. History of the Russian Revolution. New York: Pathfinder, 1971.

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    Trotsky’s magnum opus. In essence, a detailed historical account of the 1917 revolutions, but the discussion of their causation contains seminal thoughts on “uneven and combined development”: how Russia’s economic backwardness relates to the nature of the international system, leading to the “skipping” of historical stages. Originally published in 1930.

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Varieties of Marxism

Following the revolutionary experiment of the Bolsheviks, a security-minded Stalinist regime emerged in Russia, as chronicled in The Communist Movement (Claudín 1975). It played the diplomatic game according to the same rules that had been normalized and perfected over the course of the 19th century: that, in a multipolar order, each Great Power’s primary interest lies in establishing and maintaining its own sphere of influence, with international order being upheld fundamentally by power balancing. “Marxism-Leninism” continued to guide Soviet policy but was refashioned as boosterism for Soviet industrialization. Given the distancing of social democratic parties from Marxism, the mantel of “orthodoxy,” for the entire historical period from World War II until the fall of the Berlin Wall, was claimed by Soviet Communism. “Orthodox Communism” itself displayed fractious tendencies. In the 1960s and 1970s there emerged two currents of note: Maoism, in power in China and influential in India (Dirlik, et al. 1997), and Eurocommunism, with geographical centers in southern Europe and Japan (Azcárate 1978). Maoism’s criticisms of the orthodoxy centered upon the Soviet Union’s “imperialist” relationship with countries of the South, while Eurocommunists balked at Soviet intervention in Czechoslovakia, sought autonomy for their own national parties relative to the leadership claims of the Soviet party, and criticized Stalinist intransigence toward mainstream social democratic and conservative parties. The final significant politically organized branch of Marxism, Trotskyism, diverged from the orthodoxy in the 1920s over the question of the construction of “socialism in one country” (Callinicos 1990). In the second and third quarters of the 20th century, Marxism’s intellectual influence was most pronounced in philosophical and cultural domains. This phenomenon has been described, by Anderson 1979 and others, as “Western Marxism.”

  • Anderson, Perry. Considerations on Western Marxism. London: Verso, 1979.

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    Synoptic essay in intellectual history. Charts the evolution of Marxist theory following the retreat of the revolutionary movements of 1917–1923. Includes discussion of Louis Althusser, Theodor Adorno, Lucio Colletti, Antonio Gramsci, Georg Lukacs, Herbert Marcuse, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Galvano Della Volpe.

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  • Azcárate, Manuel. “What is Eurocommunism?” In Eurocommunism. Edited by G. R. Urban, 13–31. London: Temple Smith, 1978.

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    Brief, straightforward introduction to Eurocommunism by a leading member of the Spanish Communist Party. Also available online.

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  • Callinicos, Alex. Trotskyism. Milton Keynes, UK: Open University Press, 1990.

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    Student-friendly introduction. Includes discussion of the theories of “permanent revolution” and “state capitalism.” Also available online.

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  • Claudín, Fernando. The Communist Movement: From Comintern to Cominform. Translated by Brian Pearce and Francis MacDonagh. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1975.

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    Comprehensive chronicle of the Stalinization of the communist movement by a leading member of the Spanish Communist Party.

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  • Dirlik, Arif, Paul Healy, and Nick Knight, eds. Critical Perspectives on Mao Zedong’s Thought. 2d ed. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1997.

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    Collected essays, accessible in nature, presenting and critically reevaluating Mao’s thought. Conceptually, they share common ground in viewing Maoism as a form of revolutionary Marxism specific to the Third World.

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Critics of Marxism

Marxist writing on international relations (IR) was, through most of the 20th century, synonymous with theories of imperialism. Criticism came in the form of alternative theories of imperialism, notably those published by the Austrian economist and political scientist Joseph Schumpeter (Schumpeter 1951), and by the economic historians John Gallagher and Ronald Robinson (Gallagher and Robinson 1953). From IR theorists, Marxism has faced criticism from three main directions. One, addressed by the “English school” theorist Martin Wight, is the suggestion that it is deterministic and reductive, in the sense that political events and actors are seen as epiphenomena of underlying socioeconomic structures (Wight 1966). A second, related criticism, advanced by Anthony Giddens, among others, is that Marxism accords an unjustifiable explanatory primacy to one sphere, the economy (Giddens 1985). The third criticism postulates that Marxist concepts in general, and those of class and mode of production in particular, are not appropriate for the international arena. It is advanced primarily in works by realists, such as Waltz 1959 and Kubálková and Cruickshank 1980, who privilege the state as the sole valid unit of analysis in IR. Some works by IR theorists, of which Linklater 1990 is a noteworthy representative, find much to admire in Marxism but propose its merger with other philosophical traditions to create a more analytically powerful hybrid.

  • Gallagher, John, and Ronald Robinson. 1953. “The Imperialism of Free Trade.” Economic History Review 6.1 (1953): 1–15.

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    Criticizes Marxist explanations of imperialism as economistic, and argues that a major impetus for colonial conquest was strategic.

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  • Giddens, Anthony. A Contemporary Critique of Historical Materialism. Vol. 2, The Nation-State and Violence. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1985.

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    Study of social change and world order by a neo-Weberian historical sociologist. Includes critique of historical materialism for proposing a single overriding dynamic of transformation in interpreting the nature of modernity. Particularly appropriate for graduate students.

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  • Kubálková, Vendulka, and Albert Cruickshank. Marxism-Leninism and Theory of International Relations. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1980.

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    Critique of Marxist international-relations discourse from a realist perspective.

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  • Linklater, Andrew. Beyond Realism and Marxism: Critical Theory and International Relations. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1990.

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    Sympathetic critique of Marxism, proposing that Marxian and Kantian philosophical approaches be interwoven to provide the foundation for a “critical IR theory.”

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  • Schumpeter, Joseph A.. “The Sociology of Imperialism.” 1951. Joseph A. Schumpeter, “Sociology of Imperialism,” in Richard V. Clemence, ed., Essays of Joseph A. Schumpeter (Cambridge: Addison-Wesley Press, 1951)

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    A classic text, although not widely available. First printed in 1919. Theorizes imperialism as the product not of capitalism but of the militaristic proclivities of agrarian landed classes, coupled with the financial interests of monarchies. Predicts that imperialism will disappear.

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  • Waltz, Kenneth N. Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analysis. New York: Columbia University Press, 1959.

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    Standard text in IR, by a prominent neorealist scholar. Marxism features as an example of theories that locate causes of war in the “internal organization” of states and is criticized for denying the inevitable logic of power struggles within an anarchical system.

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  • Wight, Martin. “Why is There No International Theory?” In Diplomatic Investigations: Essays in the Theory of International Politics. Edited by Herbert Butterfield and Martin Wight, 17–34. London: Allen & Unwin, 1966.

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    Seminal essay by distinguished representative of the “English school” of international relations. Argues that Marxism is wedded to economic determinism and makes no systematic contribution to international theory.

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Contemporary Marxism

In the final third of the 20th century, historical materialist thinking in international relations (IR) flourished. In the 1960s, the focus was on socioeconomic relations between the “first” and “third” worlds, as explored by “dependency” and “world-systems” theories. The 1970s witnessed a revival of Marxist writing on imperialism and state theory. In the 1980s a closer dialogue with IR developed, thanks initially to the work of neo-Gramscian theorists. The defining debate in 1990s social theory concerned globalization, and Marxists participated vigorously in it. In the 21st century, historical materialist IR experienced a renaissance, with renewed interest in theories of imperialism and uneven and combined development, as well as debates on the relationship between capitalism and territoriality, and on the past, present, and future of US hegemony.

Dependency Theory and World-Systems Analysis

In the first quarter of the 20th century, the brunt of Marxist theorization of the international concerned the relations between the Great Powers. Over the following fifty years, as former colonies gained political independence, hopes grew that this would yield economic catch-up, but over time little evidence of this could be discerned. This prompted some economists—Marxists such as Baran (see Baran 1978) and Amin (see Amin 1976) and non-Marxists such as André Gunder Frank—to investigate the blockages. Frank preferred the term “dependency” to imperialism, and whereas for Lenin “uneven development” had referred to the fluctuating economic fortunes between competing nation-states, Frank understood it to refer to the North-South gap. While Marx and Engels had only intermittently considered the question of the domination of the agrarian “South” by the industrialized “North,” the “dependency theorists” gave it their undivided attention. Through their lens, the history of colonial and other techniques of power projection had structured the world economy and the states system in hierarchical form, generating the underdevelopment of economies of the “periphery,” as well as their dependency on and exploitation by those of the “core.” The most systematic and influential theorization of core-periphery exploitation was advanced in the 1970s by Immanuel Wallerstein. His “world-systems analysis” draws heavily upon Braudel, Marx (and Marxists such as Baran), and Karl Polanyi. Published in three volumes, Wallerstein 1974–1989 provides a conceptual apparatus designed to comprehend the entire history of capitalism, focusing on the international division of labor, differential regimes of labor control, and the role of hegemonic states in creating a political structure to sustain global accumulation. The world-systems paradigm has been further developed by others, notably Giovanni Arrighi, with his pathbreaking works on hegemony and hegemonic cycles (Arrighi 2010 and Arrighi and Silver 1999). Numerous critiques of world-systems analysis have been penned, the earliest and most enduring of which is Brenner 1977.

  • Amin, Samir. Unequal Development: An Essay on the Social Formations of Peripheral Capitalism. Translated by Brian Pearce. Hassocks, UK: Harvester, 1976.

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    Originally published in French as Le développement inégal (Paris: Minuit, 1973). Classic treatise on core-periphery economic relations by an Egyptian Maoist economist. Maintains that social systems are born and die at the periphery, and that central and peripheral capitalism have distinct origins and structures. Best known for its theory of unequal exchange.

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  • Amin, Samir. Imperialism and Unequal Development Hassocks, UK: Harvester, 1977.

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    Originally published in French as L’imperialisme et développement inégal (Paris: Minuit, 1976). A refinement and defense of Amin’s theory on the imperialist character of international trade.

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  • Arrighi, Giovanni. The Long Twentieth Century: Money, Power, and the Origins of Our Times. New ed. London: Verso, 2010.

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    A creative adaptation of Wallersteinian hegemonic cycles. Drawing also upon Braudel and Marxian crisis theory, Arrighi narrates an analytical narrative of economic cycles threaded into hegemonic succession (Venice-Genoa-Netherlands-Britain-United States), each phase of which expresses a Pirennian pendulum of “economic freedom” and “economic regulation.”

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  • Arrighi, Giovanni, and Beverly J. Silver. Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999.

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    Important development of Arrighi’s theses on hegemonic transitions in history, changes in the “intercivilizational balance of power,” and the interaction between geopolitics and high finance. Predicts “systemic chaos” as US hegemony declines.

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  • Baran, Paul. The Political Economy of Growth. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1978.

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    An original development of Marxism and a challenge to the “modernization” approach to development. Proposes that imperialist penetration of underdeveloped countries had destroyed earlier social formations and distorted their subsequent development, creating lasting conditions of dependency. Adumbrates a theory of unequal exchange between advanced regions of the world economy and the rest. First published in 1957 (New York: Monthly Review).

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  • Brenner, Robert. “The Origins of Capitalist Development: A Critique of Neo-Smithian Marxism.” New Left Review 104 (1977): 25–92.

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    Seminal critique of world-systems analysis by a distinguished economic historian. Contends that Wallerstein’s definition of capitalism as a trade-based division of labor displaces class relations from the center of analysis, leading to a misconstrual of capitalism’s history.

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  • Wallerstein, Immanuel. The Modern World System. 3 vols. New York: Academic Press, 1974–1989.

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    The founding statement of world-systems analysis, in three volumes. Vol. 1 (1974): Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century. Vol. 2 (1980): Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, 1600–1750. Vol. 3 (1989): The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy, 1730–1840s.

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  • Wallerstein, Immanuel. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2004.

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    Useful introduction to the world-systems approach, aimed at students and the general reader.

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International History

International relations (IR) scholarship draws upon an array of historical research too vast and diverse to merit treatment in this bibliography. However, given the importance that Marxist IR theorists attribute to the socioeconomic underpinnings of the modern international system, some of the key historiographical texts that have contributed to Marxists’ understanding of three world-historical developments—the transition from feudalism to capitalism, the global expansion of capitalism, and its differentiation into core and peripheral zones—should be mentioned and are listed below. All three developments are part of the purview of Chris Harman’s world history (Harman 2008). Anderson 1979 and Brenner 2003 are classic texts on the transition from feudalism, while the guiding thread in Hobsbawm’s tetralogy (Hobsbawm 2005) is the consolidation and extension of capitalist society. Wolf 2010, Williams 1994, Blackburn 1997, and Davis 2001 deal with various aspects of the making of the Third World.

  • Anderson, Perry. Lineages of the Absolutist State. London: Verso, 1979.

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    Comparative survey of the nature and development of absolutist states in Europe. Originally published in 1974.

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  • Blackburn, Robin. The Making of New World Slavery: From the Baroque to the Modern, 1492–1800. London: Verso, 1997.

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    A comprehensive and meticulous treatment of slavery and the slave trade, including its role in the making of world capitalism.

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  • Brenner, Robert. Merchants and Revolution: Commercial Change, Political Conflict and London’s Overseas Traders, 1550–1653. London: Verso, 2003.

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    Brenner’s magnum opus. Establishes the central role of colonial merchants and colonization in the transition to capitalism in England. Brenner’s work is foundational for the “political Marxist” current around Ellen Wood, Benno Teschke, and Hannes Lacher. Originally published in 1993.

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  • Davis, Mike. Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World. London: Verso, 2001.

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    A weighty but readable book exploring the influence of liberal economics and liberal imperialism on the great famines (India, China, Brazil, Africa) of 1876–1902. Broadens out to an analysis of the processes whereby the “West” pulls away from the “rest.”

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  • Harman, Chris. A People’s History of the World: From the Stone Age to the New Millennium. London: Verso, 2008.

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    Weighty but lucid and accessible. Breathtaking historical scope and analytic depth. Influential among Trotskyist IR scholars such as Alex Callinicos. Originally published in 1999.

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  • Hobsbawm, Eric. The Making of the Modern World. 4 vols. London: Folio Society, 2005.

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    Influential modern world history in four volumes: The Age of Revolution 1789–1848, The Age of Capital 1848–1875, The Age of Empire 1875–1914, and The Age of Extremes 1914–1991.

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  • Williams, Eric. Capitalism and Slavery. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1994.

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    The classic account, by the prime minister of Trinidad, of the role of slavery and the slave trade in providing the finance that fuelled Britain’s industrialization, and British capitalists’ and merchants’ links to the “triangular trade.” Originally published in 1944.

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  • Wolf, Eric R. Europe and the Peoples without History. New ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010.

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    Accessible treatment of the encounter between Europe and the native peoples of the Americas, Africa, and Asia by an esteemed anthropologist. Demonstrates that non-European peoples were active participants in the encounter, not passive or unchanging. First published in 1982.

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Neo-Gramscian Approaches

Neo-Gramscianism, one of the best-known schools within contemporary Marxist international relations (IR), was, ironically, founded by an individual, Robert Cox, who disavows the label neo-Gramscian and rejects the central tenets of Marxian theory. Cox’s pioneering essays (Cox 1981) contributed to the wider ideational turn in IR theory and ignited interest in Gramscian terms, notably “hegemony.” Over subsequent decades Cox, Stephen Gill (Gill 1993), William Robinson (Robinson 2004), Mark Rupert (Rupert 1995), Adam Morton (Morton 2007), and others have developed an approach that challenges the reification of state power characteristic of mainstream IR, and that identifies structures of class relations as determinants of forms of state and world order—notably, that US “Fordism,” by creating a Pax Americana conducive to globalization, enabled the emergence of a transnational capitalist class that, in turn, has given rise to an era of decentered and deterritorialized power. The most ambitious project by a neo-Gramscian theorist is Kees van der Pijl’s trilogy (van der Pijl 2007), the goal of which is to broaden the purview of IR to include relations between all “communities occupying separate spaces and dealing with each other as outsiders.” Testifying to the influence of the neo-Gramscian current, numerous critiques have been published, including Burnham 1991 and Budd 2007.

  • Budd, Adrian. “Transnationalist Marxism: A Critique.” Contemporary Politics 13.4 (2007): 331–347.

    DOI: 10.1080/13569770701822870Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief but well-judged critique, identifying neo-Gramscianism’s failure to adequately specify the underlying causal mechanisms of changing world orders, and subjecting the transnationalist thesis to meticulous refutation.

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  • Burnham, Peter. “Neo-Gramscian Hegemony and the International Order.” Capital and Class 15.3 (1991): 73–93.

    DOI: 10.1177/030981689104500105Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An early and influential critique. Neo-Gramscian theory is taken to task for its Weberian pluralism, for overestimating the importance of ideas, and for underestimating the perdurable power of nation-states.

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  • Cox, Robert W. “Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory.” Millennium 10 (1981): 126–155.

    DOI: 10.1177/03058298810100020501Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Seminal essay introducing Marxian critical theory to the study of IR, emphasizing theoretical reflexivity, the creative role of human consciousness, the social theory of the state, and the engagement of social criticism in support of practical transformative political activity.

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  • Gill, Stephen, ed. Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

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    The volume that launched neo-Gramscianism as a school, with theoretical essays by Robert Cox, Stephen Gill, and Mark Rupert. Major themes are global governance and US hegemony. Area studies of East Asia, southern and eastern Europe, and Latin America.

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  • Morton, Adam David. Unravelling Gramsci: Hegemony and Passive Revolution in the Global Political Economy. London: Pluto, 2007.

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    A complex and sophisticated book. Theoretical focus upon hegemony, passive revolution, and uneven development. Includes insightful reflections upon neoliberalism, state formation, and practices of resistance.

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  • Robinson, William I. A Theory of Global Capitalism: Production, Class, and State in a Transnational World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2004.

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    The most important contribution of the neo-Gramscian thesis on the rise to hegemony of a globalist economic-political bloc. Interprets US military interventions as acts on behalf of transnational capital.

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  • Rupert, Mark. Producing Hegemony: The Politics of Mass Production and American Global Power. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

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    An important contribution, criticizing the neglect by orthodox IR theories of the nexus of material production and power, and offering a Gramsci-influenced account of the development of US hegemony.

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  • van der Pijl, Kees. Modes of Foreign Relations and Political Economy. Vol. 1, Nomads, Empires, States. London: Pluto, 2007.

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    First volume of a trilogy dealing with, inter alia, foreign relations of empires and tribal encounters. Second volume examines foreign relations in myth, religion, and philosophy. Third volume will analyze modern IR theories as instances of Anglophone hegemony.

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Imperialism

For much of the period since World War II, the central terms in Marx-influenced treatments of the international have been “dependency” and “hegemony,” with comparatively little reference being paid to the early-20th-century theories of imperialism. Two decades stand out as exceptions. One was the 1970s, which saw important works on imperialism, including Kiernan 2005 (first published in 1978; listed under The United States: Hegemony, Empire, Imperialism), Kidron 1974, Arrighi 1983, and Magdoff 1978. The other was the 2000s, which saw a spate of publications that developed and adapted the work of prewar Marxists. They include outstanding works by established scholars such as David Harvey (Harvey 2003) and Alex Callinicos (Callinicos 2009), as well as contributions by younger academics, of which Tobias ten Brink’s Geopolitik (ten Brink 2008) is a splendid example. The intervening decades were relatively sparse, with some exceptions, notably the Chilcote 1999, an edited collection. Debates have revolved around the nature of US power and the continued relevance of the Lenin-Bukharin thesis: Is the relative peace that has prevailed since 1945 a testament to an ultra-imperialist “moment” within capitalist geopolitics or to the contingent fact that this period, in contrast to the previous multipolar system, witnessed the rise of a hegemon? A related debate concerned the conceptualization of the Soviet Bloc: Was it a component part of world capitalism, with the corollary that the Cold War expressed intercapitalist geopolitical rivalry? Those who answered in the affirmative were more likely to see this as compatible with the Lenin-Bukharin approach.

  • Arrighi, Giovanni. The Geometry of Imperialism: The Limits of Hobson’s Paradigm. Translated by Patrick Camiller. Rev. ed. London: Verso, 1983.

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    Reconstruction of John Hobson’s theory of imperialism, illustrated with geometrical diagrams. Criticizes Lenin for drawing upon ideas of Hobson and Hilferding that are incommensurable. Comparison of US and German imperialism. Originally published in 1978.

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  • Callinicos, Alex. Imperialism and Global Political Economy. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2009.

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    An erudite tome that combines a reappraisal of the Marxist canon, a comprehensive review of the contemporary literature, and a detailed discussion of the relationship between capitalism and the inter-state system.

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  • Chilcote, Ronald H. ed. The Political Economy of Imperialism: Critical Appraisals. Boston: Kluwer Academic, 1999.

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    Multiauthored collection of essays, including ones by Prabhat Patnaik on imperialism and the Global South, and by M. C. Howard and J. E. King on Marxist theories of imperialism.

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  • Harvey, David. The New Imperialism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003.

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    A contemporary classic, written during the run-up to the US-led attack on Iraq. Combines theoretical inquiry (notably into territorial and capitalist “logics of power”) with empirically focused analysis of the changing fortunes of US hegemony.

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  • Kidron, Michael. Capitalism and Theory. London: Pluto, 1974.

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    Single-authored collection of essays, including critiques of unequal-exchange theories and of Lenin’s Imperialism. Written with concision and verve.

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  • Kiernan, V. G. Marxism and Imperialism: Studies. London: Edward Arnold, 1974.

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    Single-authored collection of essays, the most notable of which are on the historical formation of Marxist theories of imperialism and on the comparison of US and European imperialist strategies.

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  • Magdoff, Harry. Imperialism: From the Colonial Age to the Present: Essays. New York: Monthly Review, 1978.

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    A classic example of the Monthly Review approach, emphasizing the United States’ role as orchestrator of the world economy. Includes essays on European expansion since 1763 and on the relationship between US foreign policy and economic tendencies (declining rate of profit, monopolization, capital export, etc).

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  • ten Brink, Tobias. Geopolitik: Geschichte und Gegenwart kapitalistischer Staatenkonkurrenz. Munster, Germany: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2008.

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    A systematic analysis of theories of geopolitics and imperialism, with insightful treatment of form-analytic approaches and phases of geopolitics over the 19th and 20th centuries.

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The Inter-State System and Global Capitalism

Contemporaneously with the re-engagement with theories of imperialism in the 1970s, other angles upon Marxist international relations (IR) theory’s major preoccupation, the relationship between the capitalist mode of production and the inter-state system, began to be explored. The “state debate” that arose in western Europe in the 1970s, the major texts of which are summarized in Holloway and Picciotto 1978 and Clarke 1991, chiefly dealt with “the state” considered in the singular (as opposed to the inter-state system), but some protagonists, such as Claudia von Braunmühl and Colin Barker, began to explore “its” insertion within the world economy and international system. One contribution by a US-based scholar was “The Marxian Theory of the State” (Harvey 2001) by David Harvey, who went on to produce a string of major contributions to theorizing the geopolitics and geography of international capitalism, the most compressed and important of which is his “Geopolitics of Capitalism.” A highly original and sophisticated integration of the Marxist theories of “the state” and of the international system arrived in 1994 with Justin Rosenberg’s Empire of Civil Society (Rosenberg 1994). For Rosenberg, the distinctiveness of the capitalist mode of production lies in the institutional separation of public and private spheres and, correlatively, in the depoliticization of private exploitation and the rise of the modern “political state.” In this emphasis, his approach bears a resemblance to that of Ellen Wood (Wood 2003), Benno Teschke (Teschke 2003) and Hannes Lacher (Lacher 2006). These “political Marxists” have succeeded in bringing Marxist theory into close dialogue with mainstream IR, as well as with their critics from other strands of Marxism, such as Alex Callinicos, who engages with Wood, Teschke, and Lacher in Callinicos 2009 (cited under Imperialism), and Gonzalo Pozo-Martin (Pozo-Martin 2007).

  • Clarke, Simon, ed. The State Debate. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1991.

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    Essays published in Capital and Class. Includes thought-provoking pieces by Sol Picciotto on the changing form of the international system and by Colin Barker on state theory. Originally published from 1977 to 1985.

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  • Harvey, David. In Spaces of Capital: Towards a Critical Geography. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2001.

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    An accomplished intervention into debates on the state and on the spatial consequences of economic crisis by a distinguished Marxist economist and geographer. Especially recommended are the chapters entitled “The Marxian Theory of the State” and “The Geopolitics of Capitalism.” Originally published in 1976 and 1985.

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  • Holloway, John, and Sol Picciotto, eds. State and Capital: A Marxist Debate. London: Edward Arnold, 1978.

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    Edited collection. The classic source on the 1970s “state debate.” Its strength lies in the recovery of “form analysis.” Includes Claudia von Braunmühl on the relationship between nation-states and the world market.

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  • Lacher, Hannes. Beyond Globalization: Capitalism, Territoriality and the International Relations of Modernity. Routledge/RIPE Studies in Global Political Economy 20. London: Routledge, 2006.

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    A critique of assumptions, widespread among Marxists, that the “inter-stateness” of the world political system developed in conjunction with the rise of capitalism. Proposes that the state system was fully modern before the rise of capitalism, and that the relationship between capitalism and the inter-state system is therefore contingent.

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  • Pozo-Martin, Gonzalo. “Autonomous or Materialist Geopolitics?” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 20.4 (2007): 551–563.

    DOI: 10.1080/09557570701680480Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A brief but spirited warning against the importation of realist categories into historical materialist analysis.

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  • Rosenberg, Justin. The Empire of Civil Society: A Critique of the Realist Theory of International Relations. London: Verso, 1994.

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    A landmark contribution. Combines a critique of realism with in-depth historical and theoretical analysis of the specific quality of geopolitics in the capitalist era.

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  • Teschke, Benno. The Myth of 1648: Class, Geopolitics, and the Making of Modern International Relations. London: Verso, 2003.

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    Historical-theoretical account of European interpolity relations, from the Carolingian Empire to feudal anarchy, to absolutism, to English capitalism. Key thesis: Is was not the Peace of Westphalia but capitalism in England that generated a distinctively “modern” international system. Deploys a rigid conceptualization of capitalism that rests heavily on the institutional separation of economics and politics.

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  • Wood, Ellen Meiksins. Empire of Capital. London: Verso, 2003.

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    Historical-analytical treatise on empires—Roman, Arab-Muslim, Venetian, Spanish, English/British, US—by a distinguished political theorist. Emphasis upon the peculiarities of modern capitalist imperialism as “almost entirely a matter of economic domination.” Holds the United States as the one and only fully capitalist empire.

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Uneven and Combined Development

A recent phenomenon within Marxist international relations (IR) has been the efflorescence of interest in Trotsky’s theory of uneven and combined development. A pioneer here has again been Justin Rosenberg, whose several exploratory articles on the subject include the acclaimed “Why is There No International Historical Sociology?” (Rosenberg 2006). Uneven and combined development has also been developed and updated by a number of Trotskyist theorists, many of whom contributed to the edited collection 100 Years of Permanent Revolution: Results and Prospects (Dunn and Radice 2006. Particularly original are the contributions by Neil Davidson (Davidson 2009) and Colin Barker (Barker 2009). Other Marxists explore a similar area of inquiry, albeit without the deployment of Trotsky’s concept. A notable example is Kees van der Pijl, several of whose books, beginning with Transnational Classes and International Relations (van der Pijl 1998), develop an approach to modern international history that centers upon a dichotomy between two types of state-society configuration: “Lockean,” where economic power is concentrated in private hands, and “Hobbesian,” a form of state that is less differentiated from society, is proactive in economic development, and relies heavily upon centralized administration. Lockean structures developed in the liberal heartlands of capitalism, while Hobbesian states arose in relatively backward regions.

  • Barker, Colin. “Industrialism, Capitalism, Force and States: Some Theoretical and Historical Issues.” International Journal of Management Concepts and Philosophy 3.4 (2009): 313–331.

    DOI: 10.1504/IJMCP.2009.027614Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A distinctive interpretation of uneven and combined development, set within a rich theoretical discussion of the nature of force in capitalist society.

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  • Davidson, Neil. “Putting the Nation Back into ‘the International.’” Cambridge Review of International Affairs 22.1 (2009): 9–28.

    DOI: 10.1080/09557570802683920Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Trenchant engagement with the views of Alex Callinicos and Justin Rosenberg on uneven and combined development, criticizing Callinicos for failing to consider its “combined” aspect and Rosenberg for ascribing characteristics of transhistoricity and internationality to uneven and combined development that it does not possess.

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  • Dunn, Bill, and Hugo Radice, eds. 100 Years of Permanent Revolution: Results and Prospects. London: Pluto, 2006.

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    Multiauthored edited collection consisting of papers that critically reevaluate Trotsky’s theories of uneven and combined development and permanent revolution. Essential reading on this topic.

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  • Rosenberg, Justin. “Why is There No International Historical Sociology?” European Journal of International Relations 12.3 (2006): 307–340.

    DOI: 10.1177/1354066106067345Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Identifies a lacuna in social theory, namely, that “society” is traditionally conceptualized in the singular. Attempts to overcome the problem by adaptation of Trotsky’s idea of “uneven and combined development.” Concludes that uneven-and-combined-development theory can overcome a twofold absence: of an international dimension from sociological theory, and of a sociological dimension from IR.

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  • van der Pijl, Kees. Transnational Classes and International Relations. London: Routledge, 1998.

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    The first of several books in which van der Pijl develops his conceptual history built around “Lockean heartland” and “Hobbesian contenders.” Includes discussion of transnational class formation and the neoliberal ascendancy.

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Globalization

Prior to the rise of the globalization discourse, Marxist economists such as Robin Murray (Murray 1971) and Nigel Harris (Harris 1983) made seminal contributions to theorizing the changing relationship between states and capitals in the postwar period. More recently, Marxists such as Robert Went (Went 2002) have embraced the concept as offering indispensable analytical purchase, while others, including James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer (Petras and Veltmeyer 2001) and the contributors to the Freeman and Kagarlitsky 2004 edited volume, debunk it. For them, globalization functions as ideological cover for a neoliberal campaign steered by narrow Western interests that serves to perpetuate the North-South power and income gap. Still others, notably Justin Rosenberg (Rosenberg 2000, Rosenberg 2005), concentrate upon repudiating globalization’s pretensions as an explanatory schema. Upon the vast and disputatious canvas of globalization theory, Marxists do not form a tight-knit group but present a wide spectrum of different perspectives. For an overview of the globalization discourse in general, Bromley 1999 is recommended.

  • Bromley, Simon. “Marxism and Globalisation.” In Marxism and Social Science. Edited by Andrew Gamble, David Marsh, and Tony Tant, 280-301. Basingstoke, UK: Macmillan, 1999.

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    A concise and lucid introduction to globalization theory by an established Marxist IR theorist. Includes useful discussions of the work of Immanuel Wallerstein, Anthony Giddens, and Roland Robertson.

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  • Freeman, Alan, and Boris Kagarlitsky, eds. The Politics of Empire: Globalisation in Crisis. Pluto, 2004.

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    Collection of essays, including Alan Freeman’s remarkable analysis of the economic geography of North-South income divergence and Patrick Bond on the geopolitics of imperialism.

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  • Harris, Nigel. Of Bread and Guns: The World Economy in Crisis. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1983.

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    Dated but accessible study of transformations in the global political economy, including analysis of economic globalization and the decline of “capitalism in one country.”

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  • Murray, Robin. “The Internationalization of Capital and the Nation-State.” New Left Review 67 (1971): 84–109.

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    An early intervention into critical international political-economy debates on the growing territorial noncoincidence between businesses and states.

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  • Petras, James, and Henry Veltmeyer. Globalization Unmasked: Imperialism in the 21st Century. Halifax, NS: Fernwood, 2001.

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    A combative book that presents globalization as imperialism in new clothes. Includes chapters on Latin America, on nongovernmental organizations (as servants of imperialism) and on US hegemony.

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  • Rosenberg, Justin. The Follies of Globalisation Theory: Polemical Essays. London: Verso, 2000.

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    Brilliantly written critique of “globalization theory” as an emergent process with effects in its own right, as instanced in the work of Jan Aart Scholte, Rob Walker, and Anthony Giddens.

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  • Rosenberg, Justin. “Globalization Theory: A Post Mortem.” International Politics 42 (2005): 2–74.

    DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.ip.8800098Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Hard-hitting extension of Rosenberg’s earlier critique, by way of a conjunctural explanation of the rise of globalization theory. A symposium appeared in International Politics 42.3 (2005), followed by a rejoinder (44.4, 2007).

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  • Went, Robert. The Enigma of Globalisation: A Journey to a New Stage of Capitalism. London: Routledge, 2002.

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    An extended essay that compares late-20th-century globalization with its late-19th-century predecessor, emphasizing the predominance of economic over military rivalry in the latter period.

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The United States: Hegemony, Empire, Imperialism

As an introduction to the topic, Kiernan 2005 is an indispensable classic. An equally original but more difficult work, Smith 2003 stakes out the connections between the evolution of the United States as a Great Power and the changing form of territoriality at the global scale. Some of the most insightful Marxist international relations (IR) scholarship has gravitated toward two particular objectives of US power: control over oil, exemplified by Bromley 1991, and control over world money, which was expertly analyzed by Fred Block in the 1970s (Block 1977) and Peter Gowan (Gowan 1999) a generation later. Major studies of US imperialism were published in the wake of George W. Bush’s accession to power by Alex Callinicos (Callinicos 2003), John Bellamy Foster (Foster 2006), and Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin (Panitch and Gindin 2004). These were bound up with wider debates on imperialism in which the neo-Gramscian and world-systems theorists mentioned in other sections of this bibliography were also prominent participants.

  • Block, Fred L. The Origins of International Economic Disorder: A Study of United States International Monetary Policy from World War II to the Present. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977.

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    A perceptive discussion of the decline of the gold standard, and of the Marshall Plan and the Bretton Woods regime and its unraveling. Remains useful despite its age.

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  • Bromley, Simon. American Hegemony and World Oil: The Industry, the State System and the World Economy. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 1991.

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    An ambitious early work, containing a compressed but comprehensive survey of IR theories, a sharply argued thesis—that neither realism nor neoclassical economics can grasp the “strategic” aspect of oil—and a detailed examination of the oil-hegemony nexus, with focus on the Middle East.

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  • Callinicos, Alex. The New Mandarins of American Power: The Bush Administration’s Plans for the World. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2003.

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    Useful introduction to US grand strategy, discussing the new turns and old tricks of the George W. Bush regime. Acutely observed analyses of neoconservatism and the geopolitics of oil, with focus on US intervention in the Middle East.

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  • Foster, John Bellamy. Naked Imperialism: The U.S. Pursuit of Global Dominance. New York: Monthly Review, 2006.

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    Essays by the editor of the Monthly Review, written in response to the turn in US foreign policy under George W. Bush. Extends the Baran-Sweezy “monopoly capital” thesis, assessing the impact upon world order of four economic trends: stagnation, monopolization, financialization, and globalization.

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  • Gowan, Peter. The Global Gamble: Washington’s Faustian Bid for World Dominance London: Verso, 1999.

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    A tour de force by the most realist of Marxist IR analysts. Powerfully argued essay on the neo-mercantilist character of US-led global restructuring. The titular gamble refers to the project of economic globalization, designed such that benefits accrue to the United States while risks and costs are distributed abroad.

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  • Kiernan, V. G. America, the New Imperialism: From White Settlement to World Hegemony. London: Verso, 2005.

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    Magnificently written survey of the evolution of the US empire, with particular attention to its international entanglements. Sweeping historical range, from the genocide of America’s indigenous inhabitants to the Vietnam War. Originally published in 1978 (London: Zed).

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  • Panitch, Leo, and Sam Gindin. Global Capitalism and American Empire. London: Merlin, 2004.

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    A pamphlet-sized presentation of the “United States as superimperialist” thesis: US informal empire has superceded the balance of power, succeeding in its quest to organize capitalism on the global scale. Global capitalism is defined stringently, with “rogue states” assumed to be external to it. Includes a discussion of US power projection via foreign direct investment, and a brief critique of classical Marxist theories of imperialism.

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  • Smith, Neil. American Empire: Roosevelt’s Geographer and the Prelude to Globalization. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.

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    A theoretically adventurous work by a distinguished geographer. A treatise on the modern geopolitical history of the United States, with a focus on the changing texture of territoriality in the early 20th century, explored by way of an analytical biography of the geographer Isaiah Bowman.

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Hardt and Negri’s Empire

By the yardsticks either of sales or idiosyncrasy, the Marxist international relations (IR) hit in the 2000s was Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire (Hardt and Negri 2000). Threading together concepts from Foucault and Deleuze, and from Spinoza and Marx, Empire furnishes a powerful and esoteric restatement of globalization theory. Following its publication in 2000, it immediately began to attract critiques, the most notable of which are the essays collected in Gopal Balakrishnan’s Debating Empire (Balakrishnan 2003) and a short book by Attilio Boron (Boron 2005).

  • Balakrishnan, Gopal, ed. Debating Empire. London: Verso, 2003.

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    Eleven essays from prominent left-wing intellectuals, including Giovanni Arrighi, Alex Callinicos, and Ellen Wood.

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  • Boron, Atilio A. Empire and Imperialism: A Critical Reading of Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Translated by Jessica Casiro. London: Zed, 2005.

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    A sophisticated and very readable (although not always fair) critique of the Hardt-Negri tome. Pans across Empire’s full thematic range, including sovereignty, imperialism, world economy, and “multitude.”

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  • Hardt, Michael, and Antonio Negri. Empire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000.

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    Enormously influential. Argues that transnational corporations have turned nation-states into mere instruments of accounting and management, and that geopolitical competition, once the motor of world politics, has been switched off. A new, deterritorialized, postmodern form of sovereignty has emerged: “empire.”

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LAST MODIFIED: 03/02/2011

DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199743292-0041

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