Introduction to international relations

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Is Marx’s Work Still Relevant to International Relations?

Is Marx’s Work Still Relevant to International Relations?

There are several theories of international relations that have to do with the organization of the world. Marxism theory of International Relations talks about the division of the classes. In this worldview, focus is placed on a specific nation’s economics, putting economic status on top of any other feature of civilization. According to Burchill (2009), supporters of Marxism feel that the realism and idealism theories are self-serving arguments that the economic elites use to give a reason for the disparities of the world. The relevance of Marx, as well as Marxism through implication, is often taken no notice of, debatably wanting “to be taken back to the 19th century where many people supposed he belongs to” (Amineh, 2007, p.67). This rivalry emanates from both the parties that are interested in carrying on capitalist social relations, and those from the Left, who challenge that the materialist basis of past materialism makes it badly prepared to conceptualize other types of exploitation and control. Nevertheless, there is no apparent definitive Marxism. This paper will place emphasis particularly on the ‘neo-Marxist’ theorization of how power is manifested in capitalism, and then assess its implications in international relations.

Firstly, this essay will describe the redefinition of power by capitalist, and then present an argument that the economic/political divide comprises a systemic continuity which makes the critique of Marx still hugely relevant. Secondly, an assessment of the formidable inferences for the modern international relations, as a vital cross-examination of the norms of orthodox International Relations, as well as for the way we currently theorize the ‘international,’ while focusing particularly at the ‘globalization debate.’ The article will conclude that there is one major problem that remains one central problem remains on the subject of this Marxist theorization of the international relations: which is the normative fear of historical materialism can stimulate opposition towards current ‘postmodern’ themes.

The Fundamental Marxism Principle: The most fundamental basis of international relations Marxism is the splitting up of the world in terms of economic status, instead of political motivations. Marxism theory suggests that it was the wealthy capitalists who formed the state system so as to make sure that their wealth would keep on growing (Budd, 2013, p.118).

Power Depoliticized: The Distinctiveness of Capitalism— Oakes & Schein (2006) discusses the redefinition of the ‘political’ by the capitalists comes from an actual shift in power’s nature, which was responsible in forming a fundamental part of the historical changes to capitalism in the first European nations to do so. The recent scholarship, by means of Marx’s knowledge of the economic/political dichotomy as a false separation of capitalist power, has started to theorize unconventional accounts of the process of contemporary state-formation. It has as well begun theorizing its attendant notions of ‘state,’ ‘civil society’ along with ‘market’ placing their construction in the historical particular progress of the system of capitalism. Teschke (2006) places emphasis on the distinctiveness of this expression of power in his analysis, asserting that the societal relations of property in the pre-capitalist Western Europe were at one time both ‘political’ as well as ‘economic.’ The group that applied direct control more than the production processes were components of a system that had “vertical subordination relations as well as horizontal co-ordination relations.” As a result, this formed a very compound power system that was more unstable in comparison to the later expression of capitalist power. This is because there was fragmentation of sovereignty and personalization of authority (Amineh, 2007, p.312).

The formation of the English nation, the formative moment where Teschke establishes in the Glorious Revolution, which made ‘sovereign’ power as being conditional on the approval of the parliamentary approval. It embodies the outstanding conditions of how power relations are configured by the capitalist– that is, the economic and political or private/public separation. It facilitated a “de-personalization the power of the public… as amassing was prosecuted more and more within the private production sphere (Teschke, 2006, p.538).

Therefore, the capitalistic society situation is described by means of its conception from ‘civil society,’ the market, the private property as well as, from production processes and excess extraction (Oakes & Schein, 2006, p.67). In correspondence to this, the distinctiveness of capitalism is as well comprised by civil society, since the state’s essential counterpart, characterized by officially ‘free’ persons taking part in exchange relations, that is, the market. This manifestation of freedom is brought about by a change in the features of power from the direct authority that characterized the pre-capitalist society to the impersonal market constraints– “the suspension of these relations into a broad form” (Teschke, 2006, p.538). There is de-personalization of power, its automation, as well as abstraction to the anarchic structure of the market. In this system, where “the ‘moment’ of intimidation is split from that of appropriation” (Laffey, 2004, p.30), subordinate entities are far less capable of either understanding their authority or to oppose it. This portrays a clear difference from relatively unstable non-capitalist power structures. Therefore, it can be observed that the system’s distinctive power derives from its de-politicization of the Economy, where “the overall logic, as well as the intimidating influence of capitalism, becomes undetectable.”

This historical change in the characteristics of power has been reinforced, certainly, by an associated ideology. Nevertheless, the theoretical division of Economic with Political both comprised of a fundamental supposition of the classical political economy and continues to be acknowledged and replicated in modern intellectual discourses, having engaged the manifestation of a patently obvious truth. This is without doubt true of Neoliberal and Realist analyses, as well as of many Marxist accounts, especially ‘base’ theories. However, Marx did not see such separation; as he recognized Economy as Political, on the subject of power relation involving capitalist and workers, along with the structuring of wider social relations (Muzaffar, 2008, p.3). The concept of ‘economics’ in the processes of dominance and utilization divests economic substitutions of the political subject, thus creating the manifestation of an impartial and impersonal market. In addition, it calls for a separate as well as a specialized public realm where ‘political’ performances are carried out and illustrated through the formation of the contemporary state as demonstrated above. For this reason, power is distinguished into the private (market) along with the public (state). However, “the economic differentiation is a differentiation in the political field (Morton, 2004).”

Marx challenged the classical political economy postulations so as to give an explanation on how these processes of the economy came to be appreciated “as the uninfringeable natural laws on which the foundation of the society is in” (Muzaffar, 2008, p.86), an observation that persists entirely relevant in the present day. The total impunity with which players in the ‘economic’ sphere are allowed to perform market transactions with severe social outcomes can be doable on condition that this artificial dichotomy remains intact. As a result, Wood’s highlighting on the systemic unison of capitalism is evidently justified, as this constituent of Marx’s analysis continues to be essential in explaining modern structures of domination. In spite of capitalism’s indisputable evolution as well as adaptation over time, particular significant elements continue to characterize social relations up to now.

Implications for the Modern International Relations: therefore, the notion of the ‘international,’ as well as its broadly accepted description as a separate externalized realm administrated by a separate reason to the ‘society,’ is weakened. On condition that the ‘state’ and ‘society create a constructed dichotomy as this paper argues; or if power is manifested to rest somewhere else as compared to just the ‘political’: what can be derived from the concept of international relations, or of the idea to the national interest? Amineh (2007) asserts that under this central model, how can one theorize for instance activities of multinational corporations that implement their power transversely ‘state’ borders and at the same time remain predominantly in the political territory of ‘civil society’ as well as its market very importance? To be brief, one cannot. This premise creates a challenge to International Relation’s dominant Neorealist model where current categories, as well as social forms, are frequently presumed to be natural and universal. The concepts of ‘civil society’; ‘state’; ‘personal freedom’; and ‘natural law’ collapses under a significant analysis that locates their foundation firmly within the experience of European capitalism.

In reality, as opposed to the positivist suppositions that take over the discipline in its current condition, the orthodox international relations theory can be well understood “as characteristics of modern global politics that requires to be clarified” (Walker 1995:6), as being part of the institutionalization and legitimization of the specific norms and notions that make up the capitalist logic. Certainly, this international relations criticism has already been made in accordance with its establishment as a field in academics, profoundly determined by normative worries that surround security, diplomacy as well as inter-state behavior (Bierstecker 1999:3). It is in addition apparent in modern practices where ‘political’ determinants bound the course and extent of logical enquiry (Roger, 2002, p.87). Teschke and Rosenberg illustrate how the analytical constructs mainstream of the international relation theory impenitently employs are shown to be comprehensively embedded in the historic structure of capitalist relations. The relevance of Marx to the present-day international relations theory can; as a result be understood principally in terms of a significant examination of the most fundamental, essential hypotheses of the discipline, including the primary internal/external methodical divide.

There are several contributions of this critical value of this approach to the modern debates in international relations. According to Justin, this approach is well equipped to conceptualize ‘globalization.’ The thing that differentiates the Marxian analysis from, for instance, the post-modernist approach is Marx’s view of capitalism as having a distinctively totalizing or ‘globalizing’ dynamic. Marxism sees the world affairs assertively in terms of distinct global process.” Building on the idea of ‘irregular and combined progress,’ Muzaffar (2008) asserts that contemporary capitalism entirely transforms the nature of world-history as well as historical change itself.

Totalizing Knowledge versus The Rest of the World: The concern is nonetheless the historical comprehension of capitalism as being “the major totalizing system that has ever been in the world” (Telò, 2009, p.45) which can be taken to mean the principle strength of the approach, or its basic weakness.

Without a doubt, the capitalism is a globalizing process and, as this paper has argued, its distinctive mechanism of disguising power relations by means of transferring them to a non-political field does add up to the rupture with social relations patterns that had gone. However, the threat in this approach is the antagonism it may bring about to the ‘post-modern’ themes of heterogeneity as well as disintegration. Although thesedifferent schools of thought are frequently believed to be in complete opposition, by the historical materialists and postmodernists, who are inclined to relate Marxism with economism, it is important to consider whether each can benefit from working with the other (Frick &Oberprantacher, 2009, p.3). The disinclination to do so puts major constraints on the scope of inquiry, disallowing Marxism the capacity to theorize prospective sites of resistance that located in the encounter involving the totalizing dynamic of capitalism as well as the other identities with which it is constantly interacts with. Through the use of Trotsky’s model of ‘irregular and collective development,’ Rosenberg advances the prospects for theorizing the way in which the capitalist dynamic comes together with native forces in some societies. However, as Hobson asserts, it ought to be viewed as Eurocentric given that it consist of the examination of other societies only as far as they stumble upon the Western capitalism (Amineh, 2007, p.112).

However, Oakes & Schein (2006) states that the setback with this persistence on historical distinctiveness, as well as systemic unity, is that it substantiates the treatment of capitalism as a totality. In this case, the argument can be referred as being tautological, the outcome being that the approach is relentlessly limiting. When Wood asserts that “Marxist political economy, as well as history, are set to challenge the capitalist as a whole directly,” she supposes that only through the comprehension of capitalism as a totalizing system can it be efficiently challenged (Frick &Oberprantacher, 2009, p.3).

In conclusion, as this paper has shown, historical materialism remains to be an efficient, as well as reliable critique of orthodox theory. The question as to whether Marx, as well as historical materialism offer constructive conceptions for international relations in the present day, depends rather significantly on itsscope to bringing together its normative highlights on challenging capitalism with an approach it has until now resisted.


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