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Global Political Economy: A Marxist Critique


Author: Bill Dunn

Publisher: Pluto Press


Publish Date: January 20, 2009

ISBN-10: 745326676

Pages: 394

File Type: PDF

Language: English

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Book Preface

This book attempts to provide a Marxist critique of global political economy – that is to say, a critical commentary both on the way the world works and on alternative interpretations of this.

This introduction describes what the book hopes to achieve and how it will try to do this. It is fi rst necessary to explain briefly what is meant by Marxism and by global political economy. There are many different Marxisms, all deeply unfashionable. Even to use the word is to court dismissal. Wise counsel may suggest euphemisms such as ‘critical’ or ‘radical’. Marxism, not for the first time, is pronounced dead. However, the fate of intellectual traditions in the social sciences is not one of simple rise and fall as better explanations prevail. It also refl ects changes in the wider social world and is itself a political act. Marxism is often damned by way of lazy caricature and guilt by association. Most Marxists in the West, for example, had disowned the avowedly communist regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe long before their collapse and few were guilty of the vulgar materialism with which they were collectively charged. The sheer diversity of Marxism attests to a live tradition grappling with what remain real diffi culties, steering between materialism and idealism, between overly economic and political Marxisms. Amongst other things the interpretation here, elaborated in more detail in Chapter 4, will argue that the appropriate alternative to determinism requires not simply recognising multi causality, but working out the relative importance of the interacting parts. Determinism is not an either/ or question, but one of degree. Marxism is also a perspective of engaged social science. The perspective here seeks to develop what has been called the ‘classical Marxist tradition’ (Rees 1998), of Marx and Engels themselves, and followed amongst others by Lenin, Trotsky, Luxemburg, Lukács and Gramsci. It is an activist tradition and I apologise in advance for any formulations absorbed over many years as a committed socialist and repeated without due acknowledgement.

This is not (yet another) book on globalisation. There were indeed important changes to the global political economy in the latter part of the twentieth century, but the premise here is that political economy should be understood ‘globally’ from the start. So there is no intention to privilege in advance change over continuity or the global over the national and local. The point is to study their interaction.

Global or International Political Economy (IPE) is also an academic discipline, often studied as part of International Relations (IR). IPE developed out of a recognition that interstate politics and international economics could not be satisfactorily understood in isolation from each other. Nevertheless, it often imported the intellectual traditions of mainstream IR and orthodox economics. This produced some rather intractable problems in trying to develop an effective synthesis.

This book therefore engages with existing traditions and tries to develop a Marxist understanding of the global political economy. It is organised into three parts. The fi rst two provide respectively theoretical and historical contextualisations of the longer third part, which deals with contemporary issues. Without anticipating what follows, this content perhaps needs some explanation

List of Abbreviations vii
Acknowledgements ix
Introduction 1
1. Liberalism 9
2. Realism and Institutionalism 31
3. Critical Approaches to IPE 48
4. Marxisms 69
5. The Transformation of European Feudalism 89
6. The Making of the Global Economy 110
7. Bretton Woods and the Golden Age 132
8. Production 157
9. Trade 179
10. Money and Finance 203
11. The New Economy and the Transformation of Labour? 225
12. The Political Economy of the ‘Non-economic’ 245
13. Competition and Cooperation between Rich-Country Economies 263
14. Problems of Development and Dependency: The State, Capital and Class in Poor Countries 284
15. Global Governance or the New Imperialism 306

Conclusions: What Prospects for the State, Capital and Labour? 318
References 323
Index 354

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