POLB80 - Lec 5 - Oct 9, 2012
IR Forum - Theories in Practice
Is it still around?
1. Marxism as a Governing Philosophy: It takes time and history into account whereas realism
and liberalism think of interactions as timeless. It is a historical theory.
2. Philosophy of History (Teleological History): Depends on where we are in history. Marx saw
history as an unfolding of patterns.
3. Model of Politics (International Relations): This is a historical model of IR. It stresses the
unfolding of history and it is the key driver behind interactions. The means of production
evolved over time. It is the way we make things and create wealth.
Classical Marxism VS NeoMarxism
NeoMarxism moves away from a theory of history and moves towards a historical theory of
world politics. It can analyze world politics by looking at economic relations rather than
watching how history unfolded.
The implementation of Marxism in most governments has been spotty, at best. Marxism's ideas
about how world politics works shares some realist points of view.
Marxism's Answers to the 4 Key Questions
1. Who are the important actors?
Classes (Proletariat - Working Class, Bourgeois - The Rich), MNCs (Multinational Corporations),
Capitalist Elites. States are not as important because they are not autonomous actors, they are
a tool for the transnational capitalist class. MNCs and Capitalist Elites use the state to protect
and advance their interests. The state is co-opted into such a role.
2. What are their interests?
Economic interests of the dominant class determine the identity and behaviour.
3. What is their context?
Hierarchy is their context, not anarchy. There are clear lines of authority and oppression. The
rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Marxism argues that there is always uneven
development. Power is not tied to state power. You are looking at a stratified state system; there are core states, states on the semi-periphery, and states on the periphery. When countries
develop, they do not get to see the fruits of their development. Dominant powers set up ways
to obtain resources from other countries (trade systems, Bretton-Woods system, etc.). This
maintains the hierarchy in the world.
4. How do they interact?
Conflict - Between the haves and have-nots and between the haves themselves.