Global politics consists of the politics performed on aworldwide level, focusing not only on relations among nation-states asInternational Relations (IR) does, but also on relations between organisationsand institutions such as: multinational corporations, non-governmentalorganisations (NGO), transactional terrorists’ groups and social classes.1 The main issue when analysingglobal politics is the overwhelming material that must be looked at.2 Itis necessary to consider theories as they act as “simplifying devices”,allowing individuals to determine what facts are important when interpretingglobal politics.3Realism and Liberalism are the leading theories explaining global politics. Realistsemphasise state sovereignty, indicating that global politics is strongly basedon accumulating power competitively, whereas, liberalists believe incooperation rather than competition.
However, rival theories such as theconflictual capitalist theory of Marxism reflects the world divided into twocategories: the dominant bourgeoisie (ruling class) and the subordinatedproletariats (working class). The German revolutionary socialist Karl Marx’stheory focuses on economic classes rather than states, thus highlighting thecentral importance of economic issues. Also, the Marxist approach placesemphasis not on patterns of conflict and cooperation between states likerealists or liberalists. Instead, Marxism focuses on structures of economicpower and the role played in world affairs by international capitalism. Thework of Karl Marx has influence post-Marxist theories, creating the modern Neo-Marxismapproach.
Classical Marxists theories such as historical materialism andhegemony created by Karl Marx, Engels and Antonio Gramsci are of fundamentalimportance to the interpretation of contemporary global politics as well as othertheories such as Imperialism, dependency theory and the world system theory. This essay intends to examine therelevance of the Marxist International Relations (IR) theory for analysingcontemporary global politics. BODY HISTORICAL MATERIALISM The criticalinterpretation of capitalism has been historically produced and was considereda form of life. Historical capitalism refers to the analysis of the developingmodes of production. Karl Marx believed that changesin society led to a change in the forms social organisation and claimed suchchanges were based on economy and on the evolving modes of production. Forexample: changes occurring due to the move from a feudal society to a capitalistsociety.
These changes led to the advancement of modes of production, whichchanged the superstructure of society and social relations. Marx emphasises thefundamental conflict of interests between the capitalist class (bourgeoisie) andthe workers (proletariats), which is purely based on competition ascapitalists’ aim was and still is to modernise their means of production byexploiting the lower class with long hours of work and low wages. Capitalists payworkers less than the true value of what they produced, allowing thebourgeoisie to accumulate surplus value (the difference between what workersproduce and what they are paid). Capitalists own and controls the means of productionand the working class sell their labour to survive. Therefore, economic forcesdominated by the ruling class determine social and global political change. For example: TheFrench Revolution was a capitalist revolution in the sense that it was drivenby class conflict. 4In the 19th century, in Europe, the feudal regime was weakened and theemerging elite groups such as manufacturers and merchants desired to increasetheir economy and gain political power. This event is an example of the processwhere an emerging social class (the bourgeoisie) rose and displaced theestablished ruling class (monarchy).
Social andeconomic changes were taking place before the revolution, resulting in newrelationships between individuals. Karl Marximplies that this exploitation in human history, where there was class conflictand economic class struggle is reflected in the present world today. Thus,contemporary capitalism is based on the bourgeoisie’s domination over thesubordinated proletariats as the bourgeoisie controls the means of productionwhile the proletariats are underpaid and exploited.
Thus, it could be said that capitalism was andis the central social factor in creating social power relations in globalpolitics. ;;;:::::::::Marx argued that Social powerrelations are defined in terms of economic production.This implies that social and economic organisation are now basedon forms of oppression and exploitation.The productionof goods being the central social factor in creating social power relations inglobal politics. Thisexploitative relationship is reflected in the following case study: GIVE EXAMPLE However, Karl Marx also arguesthat the exploitative nature of capitalism will be undermined by a newcommunist and classless world, resulting in the death of capitalism. Therefore, the Marxist IR theoryis relevant to contemporary world politics because it explains how capitalismhas become universal due to profit maximisation and competitions havinginfluence several institutions in the world.5 Marx recognised forcesstructuring states’ interactions Class repression HEGEMONY Marxists emphasise the idea thatpower is maintained by constructing ideologies.6 AntonioGramsci claimed that the bourgeoisie do not only dominate political power overthe proletariats but the bourgeoisie is also in control of other institutionsin our society, such as the church, education, media etc.
Through theseinstitution, the bourgeoisie has imposed an ideology on their workers. Suchideology is based on deceptions and misinformation, which maintains the workingclass’ state of false consciousness. The working class is being blinded by theruling class into a state of acceptance, leading to the conclusion that theexploitative system is natural. For example: Religious institutions can act asideological weapon used by the ruling class to legitimate the suffering of thepoor as something inevitable or god given. This is reflected in the bible whereit is stated that: “it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of aneedle than a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven” SEARCHThese ideas create a distorted view of reality, preventing the poor fromrealising their subordination to the capitalist class and therefore not beingable to change their situation.
Therefore, the ruling class ideology aims to presentthose values as universal, legitimating exploitation as a normal state ofaffairs. IMPERIALISM Furthermore, the Russiancommunist and political theorist Vladimir Lenin discusses the economic essenceof capitalism. Lenin did not agree with Marx’s view that capitalism wouldcollapse as workers became poor and the markets would no longer be productive. Instead,Lenin claimed that the nature of capitalism is that it needed to expand inorder to find new markets and secure new sources of raw materials and labour. Heclaimed that colonial exploitation of under-developed states was a naturalconsequence of capitalism. Industrialisation provided the elites (developed European states)with means to undertake campaigns of colonial expansion (extending control overweaker areas) across the globe. Hobbes claims that these campaigns’ aim was toensure that the rich elites in European states had captive markets and was aform of exploitation. Lenin’s idea of expansionism led him to develop an analysis of imperialism as the higheststage of capitalism as it would bring the total exhaustion of new marketsin accordance to Marx’s predictions.
However, Lenin believe that before thathappens, capitalism would collapse because of the conflicts that were arisingdue to the search for captive markets and sources of raw materials. Lenin concentrates onunderstanding imperialism through an economic analysis. Large corporations dominatedeconomic life.
He highlights the development ofmonopoly capitalism, which refers to WORLD SYSTEM & DEPENDENCYTHEORY IR scholars became more interests in the relationshipbetween International economics and international politics. The influence of the IR Marxist theory increased due to NeoMarxism THE WORLD SYSTEM THEORY studies the economic ties betweenthe industrialised world and third world countries. The theory aims to explain howthe economic exploitation of poorer countries could continue. WST is a perspective or a theory which says that there areunequal economic and political relationships in which certain industrialisednations and their global corporations still continue to dominate at the core ofthe world system. This theory explains how the peripheral countries or nationsare in an exploitative relationship at the core nations. Core nations and theircorporation control and exploit the non-core nations’ economies, naturalresource and labour force. The division between the core and the periphery is a verystable relationship.
Meaning that when a nation or country is in one of thesecategories (core, semiphery or periphery) it is very complex to move to anothergroup. … The World system theory derived from the Dependency theory,which talks about developing countries making economic advances will remain subservientand weak to core nations and large corporations. There is a conflict theory – the intra dependency ofindustrialised nations allows them to continue to exploit developing countries.The industrialised nations playing the role of the bourgeoisie and thedeveloping countries playing the rule of the proletariats. A growing share of human resources and natural resources ofdeveloping countries is being shifted/ distributed to the core industrialisednations.
This happens because developing countries go into debt to core nationsand one the ways in which developing countries can pay to core nations back byallowing the core corporations to exploit the workers and the natural resourcesof that country. So the consequences can also be things like: currencies may bedevalued, workers’ wages may froze and reduction in government services andemployment. Preventing them to change their status.
Dependency theory and wolrd system theory aim to explain thefailure of many countries to develop. Immanuel Wallerstein argued that the system is shaped by theworkings of the global capitalist economy. Dependency Dependency theory analyses the economic relations betweenthe centre (industrialised world) and the periphery (third world or developingworld).
It analyses how these two groups trade with one another. Both producedifferent things. In the centre, we produce manufactured good eg: factoriesproducing cars, machines etc. The periphery however, produces raw materials(fuel oil, stuff we need for production in the centre. But consumables such ascoffe, tea and sugar etc.
Elasticity of income (Raul Prebish) – if the centre growseconomically will have a positive effect on the economy of the centre. Whereasif the periphery grow economically, it will still have a positive effect on theeconomy of the centre as the periphery are more likely to buy manufactured productsfrom the centre. Th price of manufactured goods increased rapidly in comparisonto the prices of raw materials. As a result countries of the periphery becomingpoorer. ANDRE GUNDER FRANK & HENRIqUE Fernando Cardoso (ex presidentof brazil) developed this analysis further to demonstrate the development ofless industrialised countries was directly dependent on the more advancecapitalist societies.
This why the world theory emerged · Dependency theories: Explanations of how the economic exploitationof poorer countries could continue after the dismantling of the Europeanempires; divided states into the core and periphery. Could also link inWorld Systems theory to this as it is derived from dependency theory. · Human actions are dictated by the economic: Itis not relevant whether an individual is bad or not.
Individuals’ behaviour isdictated by economic circumstances according to Marxists. For example: evencountries who declared to be in favour of human rights are being pushed in acertain direction by the global capitalist system. Therefore, all individualsare being motivated by profit. CONCLUSION · How is the Marxist theory relevant to GlobalPolitics in comparison to other theories? You do need to come back to the question at the end of theessay, but you should also aim to highlight the relevance or not of Marxisttheory as you go through the essay, perhaps after each section.
‘Theworld is not any different; it just looks different’,7this is because of the different theoretical approaches that exist, dominatingthe study of global politics. Thisapproach highlights the division of social classes as the most important issuein global politics. Both Realist and Liberalist ideologies are justified globalinequality.
Marxists argue that the concerns of realists and liberalistsare irrelevant and that world capitalism is the dominant factor. EXAMPLES: – The 9/11 attacks on the USA enable the USA touse its dominant position to etend its control even further, using the 9/11attacks as an opportunity to implement new foreign policies and a vigorousmilitary response. Also, such attacks allow America to justify their ownaggression.- This alteration to foreign policy