POLB80- Lecture 5- October 9 2012.
Midterm only on this lecture and before that and reading from last week and before
It’s a big umbrella concept : Marxism
Did Marxism die after Soviet Union died? Why are we still talking about this? Marxism is
still around in every country because there is in some way still Marxism. The ideology is
still there. Socialism is a response to Marxism. We still have Marxism parties and still
existing from historical times.
It’s very different. It exists in multiple assets through Marxism as a government
philosophy – of Cuba, China, and North Korea. It’s a way to govern a country. There are
still Marxism parties around.
Second, Marxism exists as a philosophy of history – As history unfolds, (Teleological
meaning an inevitable end) it’s all about economic systems to a socialist utopian.
Third, is Model of politics of IR. Even though it’s on the wane as a philosophy, it’s still
relevant today. It gives us a number of aspects on IR that is different from realist,
liberalism and other IR theories.
Marxism begins with the writings of Marx.
Classical Marxism (old school Marxism) is historical theory. Marxism takes time and
history to account. Liberalism and realism is older but Marxism is a historical theory.
History plays a fundamental role in Marxism. History unfolds patterns for Marxism.
In realism and liberalism their stories happen over and over again, and the history is a
series of events. It’s entirely a historical.
The answer for constructivism is always independence. How the process between
context and actors depends on its historical aspect. It’s in between a historical and
Evolution of the means of production as a means of unfolding history for Marxism. (ex.
Industrial revolution, capitalism) The core of it is how we make things and create
wealth. They see the means of production unfold over time and who owns the evolution
of production that shapes world politics.
Old school Marxism – is the march of history through an evolution of productions events
over time. Capitalism triumphed over socialism. It’s an inevitable march of history. The
second part really fallen out.
Contrast to Marxism - Agrarian countries forgot one step of industrialism to
communism. Marxism says countries go through industrialism to be communism.
China’s economic system is capitalism and not communism. Do we really have an actual
communist country? Scandinavia is a Social democratic country- not a pure Marxism. There’s social
4 big questions on Marxism:
Important actors are economic classes or classes, MNCs, capitalist elites. States are not
the most important key in Marxism. The elite classes in countries have more in common
with the same economic class in any other countries. States are not autonomous actors.
They’re really a tool to transnational classes. States do whatever the higher
transnational classes want them too. MNCs use the states too.
Economic interest and the state – When does the state lose autonomy? When is the
state not an independent actor? Marxism states that states are not an independent
actor. States are not an autonomous actor but in liberalism states are autonomous
actors. Economic interest drives the states to act to make laws etc.
What came first the state behaviour or the economic interest? Are states really
Marxism tells the story of the conflict between economic classes.
Second question: What’s the nature of this actor? Economic interest is their nature.
What class you’re in identifies your interests and behaviour. The dominant economic
interest determines your interests and behaviour.
What’s the context? No anarchy but a hierarchy. There are clear lines of authority and
oppression. There’s inequality within states. This results to uneven development. The
rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Its supports the dominants of particular states.
Key context in realism and liberalism is anarchy
Marxist look at power at a different way. The distribution of power is a stratified global
system – a system that is has core states, semi-periphery, and periphery. Capitalism
causes this stratified global system. They set up the global financial system. When
countries develop they don’t get to see the fruits of their development. They don’t
improve the people in their country instead they improve transnational corporations or
What interaction does Marxism expect? They see lots of conflict because of the
dynamics of capitalism. Conflicts between haves and have-nots, and within the haves.
Second conflict is imperialism. Corporations need to expand in order to keep generating
wealth or the whole thing falls apart. Developed countries need cheap labour to keep
wages low in their own country. This is what makes the 18thand 19th century to lead to
colonialism. Globalization is just a next phase to imperialism.
Marxism has trouble explaining the rise of some of the middle powers of South Korea,
Mexico... etc. These countries came out of stratification.
Marxism big points:
It’s the economy – economics drive