Capitalism, courtesy of Patrick Hoesly/Flickr
This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 23 April 2016.
Globalization and Capitalist Geopolitics: Sovereignty and State Power in a Multipolar world
By Daniel Woodley
London: Routledge 2015
Daniel Woodley explores important contemporary trends in the capitalist world system from a Marxist perspective. Focusing on tensions between economic transnationalization and the persistence of state power and inter-state (and inter-regional) geopolitical rivalry, Woodley poses challenging questions for all perspectives in IR, including those seeking to transform the chaotic and destructive dynamics of globalized capitalism.
Woodley’s central thesis is that, notwithstanding US military and financial power, the world has entered a transitional phase in which ‘imperial state hegemony is giving way to a new international economic order characterized by capitalist sovereignty and the competition between regional/transnational concentrations of power for geopolitical security’ (p.xiii). In line with the transnationalist Marxist perspective, Woodley argues that the scale of transnational corporate power is such that the significance of inter-state competition is declining and that corporations operate within the framework of an emergent transnational state form of capital (chapter 4).
Capitalist sovereignty and state power
Woodley argues that the concept of capitalist sovereignty (chapter 2) reintegrates the dual logics of capital and territoriality that are separated in much international political economy. Rejecting the common view that states are the basic entities of IR, Woodley ‘places the value form-determined relation of power at the centre of theoretical analysis’ (p.1), emphasizing that both capital and states are subject to capital’s determining logic. Capital continues to depend on states ‘to reproduce the conditions necessary for the production of value’ (p.22), but, echoing Robert Cox’s transmission belt metaphor (later withdrawn), Woodley argues that states are becoming ‘administrative instruments for restructuring’ economies in line with transnational corporate interests (p.18). Like other transnationalists, Woodley throws down a gauntlet to state-centric IR and IPE, Marxist and otherwise.
Marxist scholar Michael Hardt. Image: Grupo de Estudo de Fotografia da UFES GEF/Flickr
This article was originally published by E-International Relations on 11 November, 2015.
Michael Hardt is a political philosopher and literary theorist based at Duke University and the European Graduate Institute. He is best known for his collaboration with Antonio Negri, with whom he wrote the Empire trilogy. His work has been linked with autonomist Marxism. His most recent book is Declaration, co-written with Antonio Negri, which refers to the Occupy and other social movements. He currently serves as the editor of the South Atlantic Quarterly.
How has the way you understand the world changed over time, and what (or who) prompted the most significant shifts in your thinking?
Maybe more significant for me is something that hasn’t changed. When Toni Negri and I were writing Empire, in the late 1990s, our first intuition was that the United States would soon no longer be able to dictate global affairs, that it could no longer “go it alone,” unilaterally. But we didn’t therefore think that some other nation-state, such as China, would occupy that position or even that a multilateral alliance among dominant nation-states would be able to control global affairs. Our hypothesis instead was that a network of powers was emerging – including the dominant nation-states together with supranational institutions, corporations, NGOs, and other non-state actors – to control global relations in a shifting and contingent way. » More
Protests in Tel Aviv last fall. Photo: Or Hiltch/flickr
Voices critical of Israel’s role in the Middle East sometimes argue that its occupation of the West Bank, much of the Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip is imperialist in nature. Such criticism draws a parallel with 19th and 20th century European imperialism, casting the Palestinians as the indigenous inhabitants of the region and the Israelis as a hostile ‘foreign’ power. Another implication of this characterization, however, is that the occupation is economically motivated, or is best understood in economic terms. Today, to complement our discussion of ‘Economics, Politics and War’ last week, we examine some aspects of the political economy of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Specifically (and with the help of Miriam Qamar’s recent essay “Thoughts on the Dialectics of Revolution and Palestinian Nationalism”), we do so through a Marxist lens. » More
“The meek shall inherit the earth, but not its mineral rights” Photo: theKerb/flickr
If it is true that Marxists “are people whose insides are torn up day after day because they want to rule the world and no one will even publish their letter to the editor,” and also that “few modern ideologies are … as likely to start a third world war as the theory of ‘geopolitics,'” then we may one day look back on the February 2011 forum of the journal Geopolitics — “Towards a Marxist Geopolitics” — as the publisher of those dead letters that would ultimately set the world ablaze. » More