POLI 243 Lecture 4: Alex Callinicos – Does capitalism need the state system.docx

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19 Apr 2015
Alex Callinicos – Does capitalism need the state system?
Major puzzle in international politics since end of cold war = whether the collapse
of the Soviet Union also marked the effective termination of geopolitics, at least on
a global scale.
realists said no  predicted balancing coalitions, rise of weaker power to challenge
BUT today, no real sign of coalition really challenging US supremacy
The debate on imperialism renewed
Often said that Bush administrations proclamation of a ‘long war’ against
terrorism, imperialism = back with vengeance  renaissance of Marxist writing on
imperialism, with common ground = theory of imperialism of Lenin, reformulated
by Bukharin. Theory provided 2 things:
-offered on account of the specific phase of capitalist dvpmt (beginning of
20th according to Marxists)
-attempted an explanation of the geopolitical rivalries among great powers
that produced WW1 as a consequence of the economic and territorial
competition of the “state capitalist trusts” that now dominate these states
There are broadly 3 positions in contemporary debate around 2nd claim:
1. those who claim that capitalism is now organized both economically and
politically along transnational lines Ł geopolitical conflicts among the leading
capitalist states are obsolete.
2. Those who assert that while capitalism needs the state system, the US has
succeeded in constructing since WW2 and “informal empire” that effectively
subordinate the other leading capitalist states to American hegemony Ł
geopolitical competition is obsolete
3. “theorists of the new imperialism”:
-global capitalism still has to exit from the era of economic crisis wich it
entered in 1960s/70s
-1 important dimension of the crisis = division of advanced capitalism
between 3 competing centers of economic and political power (Triad of
Western Europe, North-America and East-Asia)
-Ł asymmetries of power between US and other leading capital states, there
are still significant conflicts of interest among them  likely to give rise to
geopolitical struggles.  from 2 other claims because says that still
conflict in post-Cold War era.
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