Marxist Theory Of International Relations

Marxist Theory
Of International Relations
• The Great Experiment had failed….
Bolshevik Revolution = Creation of USSR
Cold War = End of USSR
Marxist Theory = Dustbin of History
World = Liberal Democracy and Capitalist
• But… Marxist Thought refuses to go away
– Two reasons for renaissance
• Failure of USSR embarrassment to Marxist
– USSR = Didn’t truly follow Marx
– Marxist now can promote communism without having to defend
USSR Behavior
• Marxist Theory becoming more relevant in the world of
– All events take place in and are a consequence of the Global
Capital System
– Many of Marx predictions of GCS are coming true
Elements of Marxism
• Karl Marx
– Communist Manifesto
– Outlined and provided critical critique of Capitalism
– Prophesized rise of working class socialist societies
– Never discussed international relations
– Schools of Thought emerged inspired by Marx
• Four Major Strands have Developed that share Key
Marxist Ideology
– Social World (Sciences) Should be viewed as a Totality
» Non can be understood without the knowledge of others
– Materialist Conception of History
» Historical change reflection of the economic development of
» Means of Production conflict with Relations of Production
and forms Economic Base which will determine the
Superstructure of Society
– Means of Production
» The elements that combine in the production process
(Labor, tools, technology, etc…)
– Relations of Production
» Link and organize the Means of Production
» Technical and institutional relationships that allow
production process
» Structure that govern process and control end products
– Economic Base
» Economic system of a society = power and control
» When one changes (MoP or RoP) then EB will be forced to
– Superstructure
» Political, legal, cultural, etc… norms and institutions grow
out of and reflect and reinforce the power and control of
the economy
– Class Structure
» Society is prone to class conflict
• Bourgeoisie = The Capitalist
• Proletariat = The Workers
» Emancipation
• Marx thought philosophers should be actors in
creating change
• Overthrow the existing/prevailing order and replace
it with a communist society
• Replace wage labor and private property with a new
social order
• The definition and terminology of emancipation is
debated among contemporary Marxist
Four Marxist Theories
• World-System Theory
– Developed in response to…
• Imperialism
– Monopoly Capitalism = capital becoming consolidated in the
hands of wealthy nations
» Core
» Periphery
– Harmony of Interests = pacifying the working class in the core
with economic gain from the Periphery
• Declining Terms of Trade
– Price of Manufactured goods increased more rapidly than that
of raw materials
– Periphery become poorer relative to the core
» Takes more coffee grown to buy a refrigerator
– Key Features of World-System Theory
• Prominent Protagonist = Immanuel Wallerstein
– History = rise and fall of a series of WS
» Current System Formed in 16th Century
• Birth of Age of Discovery (Globalization)
• Catalyst = Capitalism
– Interrelationships in the World Economy
» Core
• Democratic, welfare state, and high standard of living
• Imports = raw materials, Exports = manufactures
» Semi-Periphery
• Provides home for this industries that con no longer
function in profitably in the Core
• Stabilizing factor of WST
• Authoritarian, low welfare services and standard of living
• Imports and exports both
» Periphery
• Non-Democratic Gov and no welfare services
• Imports = manufactures, Exports = raw materials
• Three zones are linked in exploitive relationship
– Wealth is drained form the Periphery to the core
– Temporal Dimensions of world-economy
» Cyclical Rhythms
• Capitalism goes through series of expansions (booms)
and contractions (busts) over time
» Secular Trends
• Long-term growth of world economy in association with
cyclical rhythms
• Each cycle starts/stops at different places
» Contradictions
• Makes one set of behavior optimal for the long run,
while another set of behaviors are optimal for the short
• Often not possible to follow both
» Crisis
• Cyclical Rhythms, Secular Trends, and contradictions
counter act and bring end to world system and replaced
by a new world system
• Gramscianism
– Named after Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci
• Important contributions to the study of International
Political Economy
• Founded Italian Communist party and jailed in 1926 for
beliefs, spent rest of life in jail
• Wrote Prison Notebooks
– Key Questions
» Why had it proven to be so difficult to promote revolution
in Western Europe?
• Marx predicted revolution would take place in most
industrialized societies, but reality revolution took
place in underdeveloped societies
• Capitalist Society -> Revolution -> Socialist Society
• Answer = Hegemony
– Coercion and consent
» Coercion = fear of… keeps the exploited and alienated
majority in society from rising up and over throwing the
system that is the cause of their suffering
• Laws, norms, regulations, etc…
» Consent = allows the moral, political, and cultural values
of the dominant group to become dispersed to the
subordinate groups and classes
• Media, education, religion, etc…
– Society can only be changed through Counter-Hegemonic
– Robert Cox
• Modern proponent of Gramscianism
• Knowledge cannot be objective and timeless
– Ideas and Values are reflection of social relations and are
transformed by those social relations means all knowledge
must reflect a certain, context, time, and space
– All Theorist inevitable bring their values to bear on their
» No separation of facts and values
» Theories are for and serve the interest of those who
prosper under the prevailing order
• Consent and coercion and Harmony of Interest
• Reinforcing the ruling hegemony
• Hegemony is important for maintaining stability and
– Dominant powers have to shape a world order that suits their
» Free Trade – promoted by hegemony and accepted by
masses, though it does not benefit the masses
• Critical Theory
– Challenges the prevailing order by seeking out,
analyzing, and where possible, assisting social
processes that can potentially lead to emancipatory
• Born from Frankfurt School
• Left-Wing German Jews
• Nazism forced into exile, worked in the US
– Focuses almost entirely on Superstructural aspects of
– Cultural, bureaucracy, politics, family structure, etc…
– Argue working class has been absorbed by the system
and no longer is a treat to it
– Results from rise of Mass Media and mass culture
– Explores the meaning of Emancipation
• Barbaric and Immoral behavior conducted in the name
of Emancipation
– Stalinism and Imperialism
• Domination of nature and humanity to common
– Seeks reconciliation with nature and humanity
• Radical Democracy
– Widest possible participation in democracy by eliminating
barriers (social, economic, or cultural)
– Should extend beyond state
» Andrew Linklater – main contemporary Critical Theory
• Borders of the sovereign sates have lost their ethical
and moral significance
• European Union
• New Marxism
• Return to the fundamental tenets of Marxist thought
• Critical of stands that distort or neglect original intent
• Focuses on International Relations where Marx was
– Justin Rosenberg – main contemporary
• International System changes with each new period of
time and Relations of Production
• Relations of Production impact state society
• State society interacts globally
• Relations of Production impact global society
• Change in Relation of Production in state will impact
international society
• Benno Teschke – Other Main Contemporary
– Social Property Relations
• Examines the way in which class relations, forms of
exploitation, and control of the means of production
have changed in different historical epochs
– Two major transformations in IR
• Feudal System -> Early Modern (Monarchies)
• Early Modern -> Modern (Capitalist States)
Globalization and Marxism
• Marxism v. Globalization
– Marxist don’t deny the relevance and importance
of Globalization
– Do deny that it is new or novel
• Just latest phase of Capitalist expansion and
exploitation of non-capitalist or semi-capitalist nations
• The Globe is dominate by capitalism, all people and
institutions are by capitalism through globalization, as
integration and interdependence increase the trend will
continue to grow
• Boarders may become obsolete, but capitalism is still
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