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Marxist Theories of IR "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." (The Communist Manifesto). Introduction. Key figures: Marx, Engels and Lenin Key concepts of Marxism for IR Influence of Marxism on IR Critiques of Marxism Is Marxism obsolete?
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Key figures: Marx, Engels and Lenin
Key concepts of Marxism for IR
Influence of Marxism on IR
Critiques of Marxism
Is Marxism obsolete?
Son of German industrialist
Managed father’s cotton factory in England
Long political collaboration with Marx
The Condition of the Working Class in England
The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State
Works exploring Marx’s critiques of idealism and materialism and attempts to overcome dualism of base v superstructure etc
e.g. Franz Jakubowski’s Ideology and Superstructure in Historical Materialism, Pluto, 1990
‘the man who knows reality no longer stands outside history like Hegel’s “philosopher” but is himself a factor in transforming social relations. Theory no longer merely exists post-festum but becomes a lever in the revolutionary process.’ (Jakubowski, 1990, p. 61).
‘It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness.’
Marx, 1856 Preface to “The Critique of Political Economy”
What does Marx mean?
Aristotle on humans as social beings by nature
Modern theories on the development of human consciousness
Link to tool use
see e.g. Voloshinov’s linguistic theories
see e.g. Raymond Tallis’ The Hand
Human agency in human-made material conditions
‘Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please, they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past’ Marx, Brumaire
‘man’s consciousness not only reflects the objective world but creates it’ Lenin, Philosophical Notebooks
“whom am I now to believe, political economy or ethics? ... It stems from the very nature of estrangement that each sphere applies to me a different and opposite yardstick – ethics one and political economy another; for each is a specific estrangement of man and focuses attention on a particular field of estranged essential activity, and each stands in an estranged relation to the other.” Human Needs & the Division of Labour, Marx 1844
See Istvan Mezaros’ Marx’s Theory of Alienation , Merlin Books, 1970 http://www.marxists.org/archive/meszaros/works/alien/index.htm
Commodities as use values v exchange values
Commodification – everything becomes a commodity including human life
Products may be socially wanted but particular social groups in need may not be able to buy them
E.g. famine politics E.g. housing problems
Social production i.e. groups of workers producing things for others not for themselves
Private appropriation – profits going to owners of factories not to factory workers
Imperialism = monopoly stage of capitalism
Concentration of production & creation of monopolies
Contradictions of monopoly v free trade
Dominance of finance capital
Export of capital not just goods
Different from earlier empires and even earlier European colonial rule
Lenin’s work drawing upon Hobson’s work
Large extracts in Lenin’s Imperialism
‘imperialism’ became a generic term with little content….the category imperialism was extended to cover almost any relationship of subordination or control.
Today, Lenin’s ‘grounding of imperialism in issues of the boardroom has been almost entirely forgotten’ (Lewis and Malone in Lenin, 1996, p. xiii).
Various Marxist strands downplay dialectics and suggest causal determinism
But dialectical method - understanding relations as in motion, involving contradictory relations and forces not simple static, causal determinism
Equating theoretical approach with results of approach at particular historical moment
‘Most criticisms merely state the obvious – that the world is not the same as when [they] wrote’ (Lewis and Malone in Lenin, 1996, p. xiii).
Key theorists: Andre Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, Raul Prebisch
Formal political control (colonialism) not necessary to create dependency, possible through economic means
Uneven development and underdevelopment
Capitalism leading to uneven development and hindering development of developing countries
Not opposed to industrialisation
But entanglement of industrial sectors with foreign capital relations
Seek strategies to develop independent national economies free from international capitalist political economy.
Relevance of Marxist theories of class struggle, capitalism, imperialism, militarism to international politics today?
How do we understand humanitarian intervention? e.g. Bosnia, Kosovo
How do we understand global governance? e.g. Bosnia, Kosovo – economic drain rather than economic extraction
Why invade Iraq if could better dominate a country and extract more profit with formally independent state without costs of occupation?