Notes on Development Theory Ms.

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Mon Oct 11 07:30:13 MDT 1999

Sam Pawlett:
>  "Globalization" is a term that has in come into being since the end of
>the USSR and the Eastern Bloc communist nations in the early 1990's. The
>term has had a meteoric rise with the growth of the economic and
>power of international business. Related is the end of nation-based
>Keynesianism– social democratic policies of regulating the economy and
>the functioning of an effective welfare state such that everyone in
>society can claim some benefit in national productivity increases.

I should post the second installment in my review of the Brenner thesis
sometime this week, but Sam's reference to the question of globalization
prompts me to mention that the final installment is going to deal with the
question of how Marxism, world systems theory and "globalization" tie
together. One of the main strengths of the Wallerstein-Frank approach is
that it views economic development on an international level. The big
problem with Brenner, as pointed out in an interesting article by Arrighi,
is that is totally unconcerned with the international context in which
capitalism arises. This is in some ways reflective of a too narrowly
focused reading of Capital. While it is true that Marx bracketed out much
of the international context--including mercantilism--in his discussion of
the transition from feudalism to capitalism in England, there was a purpose
to this. He wanted to show the exact mechanics of how class relations based
on commodity exchange arose. There are other places, including chapter 31
on the genesis of the industrial capitalism, where the international
context is put into the foreground.

John Bellamy Foster, who I tend to agree with on many of these sorts of
questions, had an interesting review of William Robinson's 1996 "Promoting
Polyarchy: Globalization US Intervention and Hegemony" in some journal, MR
probably. Robinson's book is an attempt to wed Marxist theory to a
political analysis of many of the issues currently under discussion under
the rubric of globalization. I suspect that such an effort is not only
useful, but necessary in today's political framework. My final installment
will be based on a consideration of Robinson's approach, in contrast to WST
and Brenner.

Louis Proyect


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