Chapter 16 Lecture Notes

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Political Science
POLI 100
Christopher Erickson

CHAPTER 16 LECTURE NOTES ALTERNATIVE THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO IR Marxism Marx did not write much about international relationsHowever his general ideas have inspired many IR scholarsOne major contribution by Marx and his friend Friedrich Engels was an analysis of imperialismMarx on Imperialism History develops through stages and capitalism is a late oneCapitalist society is split between two classes bourgeoisie and proletariatIt needs larger and larger markets to maintain itselfMarx and Engels argued that capitalism in its relentless quest for profits will bring the whole of the world into its exploitative systemIn the process it creates a world in its own image The capitalist classes become universal and so does the struggle between themFor Lenin imperialism was the highest and final stage of capitalismCharacterized by a widening gap between rich and poor nationsUniversal class structure sets the stage for a global class warSince WW2 Marxistinspired writers have explained underdevelopment in the Third World nations as a direct product of imperialismCritical Theory in IRCritical theory has been very influential amongst IR scholarsIt is not exclusively Marxist but it shares Marxs views about emancipation and opposition to exploitation The Italian Antonia Gramsci 18911937 is a key figure Gramsci argued that ruling classes maintained power by making prevailing inequalities seem natural One of the commonest totems is the belief about everything that exists is that it is natural that is should exist that it could not do otherwise than exist This idea is summarized by the term hegemonyFor scholars influence by Gramsci realist theory is hegemonic because it underpins the status quoThey argue that the existing order can and should be challenged because reality is socially constructed by humans who can reshape the world they live in
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