Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Wed. eve. linkage (abbreviated)

-- The Disorder of Things recently ran a series called "The Global Colonial 1914-1918." Lucian Ashworth's post, the first in the series, looks to be worth reading, though I've not done more yet than glance at it. [Update: I've now read it; see the discussion in comments.] The other contributions also seem worth a look.

-- There's a post and discussion at the USIH blog about a review in New Left Review of The Great Persuasion. Since I've read neither the review nor the book, I don't have a lot to say about it right now.

-- Craig Lambert's profile of Orlando Patterson (in Nov./Dec. Harvard Magazine) is interesting, though I raced through it. A more careful reading might be in order at some point. [Update: Read it properly now. A good piece.]


Ronan said...

The Lucian Ashworth post is very interesting. Particularly the extent to which international politics was conceived (at the time) as both a security system (where major powers sought to balance eachother), and an economic one (where major powers exploit weaker one, and specific 'ruling class' interests are followed)
IR doesnt really deal with the second part anymore (afaict)- although international political economy does a bit. That seems a bit of a loss to me. (Im not a Marxist but Id love to read an intelligent, well thought through marxist critique of international politics. Im sure it exists, Im just too lazy to have looked for it)

LFC said...

I have to actually read Ashworth's post, which I will do sometime this weekend. After I've done that I'll be in a better position to respond to yr comment. There are Marxist/Marxian takes on IR, but I will defer saying anything more till I've read the Ashworth post.

LFC said...

This wkend has been a bit f*cked up (short version); so while i definitely will get to this, it may not be till next wk.

LFC said...

Ok, just read the Ashworth piece (sorry for the delay). I left a comment over there about one specific point.

Now to your comment, which I'll break into two parts. First, this:
...the extent to which international politics was conceived (at the time) as both a security system (where major powers sought to balance each other), and an economic one (where major powers exploit weaker ones, and specific 'ruling class' interests are followed)

What Ashworth mainly shows in the post is that Mahan and Brailsford, from different angles, saw int'l politics in this way (except I'm not sure about the specific "ruling class" bit, as that's a phrase Mahan, i think, wdn't have used, and Brailsford, despite apparently anticipating a 'neo-colonial' analysis, prob. wdn't have either). Ashworth also ropes in Angell, Hobson, Reinsch, etc. But I don't think *every* writer on intl politics pre-1914 saw it in this 2-tiered way (in fact, pretty sure not). Clearly some important ones did, though.

Now to this:
IR doesnt really deal with the second part anymore (afaict)- although international political economy does a bit. That seems a bit of a loss to me.

I just don't think this is right, not phrased in this sweeping form. "IR" is a big tent, pardon the cliché, and there has been a lot of writing for a long time about, to put it crudely, big powers exploiting weaker countries economically. There is a line one can draw from dependency theory (e.g. A.G. Frank's classic piece "The Development of Underdevelopment") to Raul Prebisch to world-systems analysis to the Gramscians (Robert Cox and his followers) to left critiques of neoliberal globalization (tho the the latter have sometimes veered off into po-mo territory, to use a blunt shorthand).

I don't think 'IR' is limited to what some big-name US scholars do; it's broader than that. You might look at some of Justin Rosenberg's articles, if you can access them, as one pt of entry into recent "Marxist critiques of intl politics" (to use yr phrase).

LFC said...

p.s. Intl. pol. ec. is really part of IR, at least as the subject is dealt w in U.S. and UK universities. Or so i wd be inclined to argue (I'm sure there are counterexamples here and there).

LFC said...

Btw, I was sorry to learn about your brother from your comment in that CT thread.

Ronan said...

Thanks LFC. It was a while ago, so ok now. I have to remind myself not to go near internet comment sections after a few beers ; )

I think you're right that my comment was a little sweeping, particularly in relation to

"and an economic one (where major powers exploit weaker one"

but on the other part of that sentence, is there still a large/relevant school that does speak in terms of a 'ruling class', or at least that conceptualises international politics as a manifestation of elite interests.
To be clearer- realism (at least as strawman) imagines states acting in some type of uniform manner, where interests are a given (an outcome of the international system) Boiled down a bit more you could see them as an aggregation of societal preferences (electoral concerns, sectoral interests, policy maker preferences) ..
A liberal or constructivist (when not looking at international institutions or norms as shaping behaviour) might see the same domestic drivers of policy as Ive outlined above, but Ive rarely seen them talk specificaly about a 'ruling class' or ruling class interests. This might be because the term is anachronistic, or that the evidence has pushed away from such a reading, but I'm wondering is this still a feature of the debate (I'd assume with Marxists it still is)
Im not sure if that's clear, or on point,but ..

If you dont mind me asking (and dont feel obliged to answer if you do) what area of IR did you study ? ie what subject was your thesis on? (i seem to remember you saying, perhaps, on norms against post war border changes ?)

Ronan said...

ps i bought the Hobson book mentioned in the article(as it was going for £2) so Ill see what i make of it

LFC said...

One usually won't find references to "the ruling class" in 'mainstream' IR, that's true. But the Gramscians in IR use (or at least used to use) the notion of a "hegemonic social class." See e.g. Robert Cox's 1983 article "Gramsci, Hegemony and International Relations: An essay in method," reprinted in S. Gill, ed., Gramsci, Historical Materialism and International Relations (1993). See also e.g. Kees van der Pijl, The Making of an Atlantic Ruling Class (1984) or his more recent work. (There's other stuff too on these lines.) But you're right: not in realism, liberalism, or constructivism, w/ perhaps a few exceptions.

Hobson is famous for (among other things) the theory of underconsumption, i.e., to put it simplistically, that capitalists needed colonies b.c the domestic markets couldn't absorb all of what their factories were producing and/or all of the capital they had available to invest. There's been some revival of interest in Hobson in recent yrs. In fact a while ago I made a hard copy of a good article that i found about him and meant to blog about it, but never did.

To answer yr question on my thesis, it's a bit difficult to summarize without regurgitating the abstract, but it looked at the evolution of territorial boundaries in medieval and early-modern France as a way of discussing the transition from medieval to modern territoriality. There was also some stuff about contemporary boundaries, but it was mostly historical. (I thought of trying to get an article or two out of it but I was pretty much too tired of the whole subject by then; and to try to publish it as a bk wd have required, I think, more additional work than I was willing to put in.)

LFC said...

not in realism, liberalism, or constructivism

Actually on 2nd thought I think I'm being too sweeping now. In some ways it's more useful to talk about particular authors and books.

Ronan said...

Thanks for the recommendations, LFC..Ive actually been meaning to read van der Pijl, so hopefully will get around to him soon.
I'd say the PhD was worth doing even if it didnt lead to a career in academia (for the achievement and interest alone) ? (theoretically, I would have liked to have done it - or to do it in the future - but dont know if Id be able to maintain that level of indepth study )

LFC said...

Well, the question of a PhD and is it 'worth it' opens up a whole other topic.

Rather than writing more here about myself, I would just suggest that if you (or anyone else) is thinking about doing a PhD (or going to grad school, period), you shd have a clear idea of why you're doing it. If you're doing it mainly for the interest and achievement and not for an instrumental reason (and if you have the luxury of approaching it that way), fine. If you're doing it partly or entirely b/c you want a career in academia (or think tank or govt) then you need to approach it more 'strategically' -- of course, the considerations will differ somewhat depending on what continent and country you do it in and what your goals are.

I made a few bad decisions in retrospect that i've actually posted about here a fair while ago (not too keen on linking to that post now for various reasons, but if you want me to, I suppose I have nor real grounds to refuse to do so, except that it's a genre (self-criticism or self-flagellation) that i don't usu. go in for here a lot.)

LFC said...

no real grounds

Ronan said...

If I was to do it it'd be directly connected to a specific career. They have started tying PhDs to jobs (not only in 'technical' fields) in the UK and Ireland, where the employer takes half the funding, the govt the other half, and they (I think) relax the expectations on publishing etc. This is still new in the humanities and social sciences, so still complicated about getting into (weighted towards quant stuff and the full govt funding still available primarily to younger more 'accomplished' students) .. and anyway wouldnt apply to me for the forseeable future.
It's something that would interest me on some level, but Id imagine wont materialise (at least for a while, if ever) Which I dont mind, really.
More a passing thought than anything else.

LFC said...

I don't know v. much (virtually nothing, in fact) about your particular circumstances and academic background, and I'm not going to ask you about it in a (theoretically) public forum such as this, but for the record I am impressed with the range of your acquaintance with the pol. sci. and other contemp. academic lit. (and also you seem to know a fair amt. about the Middle East).

I feel fairly confident in saying that very few people outside a restricted slice of the academy (plus maybe a few leftish intellectual circles) have any idea who K. van der Pijl is (no offense to him, but he's not exactly a household name), so your knowing his name and saying you'd been intending to read him is impressive, from my standpoint.

I guess I'll leave it at that. Btw I didn't know about the new arrangements in UK and Ireland re (certain) PhDs -- interesting.