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Capitalism

UNEVEN AND COMBINED DEVELOPMENT AND CONTEMPORARY WORLD POLITICS

Dear Colleague,

I am pleased to announce that Queen Mary’s Centre for the Study of Global Security and Development will be hosting a symposium on ‘Uneven and Combined Development and Contemporary World Politics’ on Wednesday, Februaury 9, 2011 between 2-6pm.

The programme is below. If you wish to attend please contact Rick Saull – r.g.saull@qmul.ac.uk – in advance of the symposium.

Regards,
Rick Saull
Director, Queen Mary, Centre for the Study of Global Security and
Development

Symposium on UNEVEN AND COMBINED DEVELOPMENT AND CONTEMPORARY WORLD POLITICS

Wednesday, February 9, 2-6pm (room Arts G.02), Queen Mary, Mile End Campus, London, E1 4NS

Programme/Presenters

Session 1, 2.00pm – 3.30pm

Alex Anievas (Cambridge)
‘Origins and Extensions of Uneven and Combined Development in the History and Theory of International Relations: The Case of the First World War’ This paper aims to contribute to recent debates on ‘international historical sociology’ specifically regarding the potential utility of Leon Trotsky’s concept of uneven and combined development (U&CD) in advancing a theory of modern inter-state conflict. The paper first re-examines recent debates over the theoretical status of U&CD considering, in particular, the various socio-historical and spatial registers covered by the idea as deployed by the different positions within the debates. Considering the possible benefits and pitfalls of stretching the concept to a generalized theory of ‘the international’ throughout history, the paper argues that a central challenge remains. This regards the development of a sufficiently historically-differentiated conception of ‘unevenness’ and ‘combination’-one capable of theorizing the radical historical disjuncture represented by the international relations of capitalist modernity while nonetheless capturing aspects of inter-societal relations common to all historical epochs and thus forming a crucial causal element in the transition to capitalism itself. Developing such a perspective, a theory of U&CD could take up John Hobson’s (and others) charges of ‘Euro-centricism’ with a more historically-sensitive interpretation of the internationally-pressurized multiple paths to capitalist modernity and their crucial ‘feed-back’ effects in restructuring processes of inter-state competition. Drawing on and further contributing to the theory, the second half of the paper sketches an alternative approach to the causes of the First World War distinctively combining ‘geopolitical’ and ‘sociological’ modes of explanations into a single framework. This highlights how the necessarily variegated character of interactive socio-historical development explains the inter-state rivalries leading to war. Contextualizing the sources of conflict within the broad developmental tendencies of the Long Nineteenth century (1789-1914) and their particular articulation during the immediate pre-war juncture, the paper aims further develop the theory of U&CD in and through the rich empirical terrain of the pre-war period thereby providing a much needed empirical contribution to recent debates.

Ben Selwyn (Sussex)
‘Trotsky, Gerschenkron and the Political Economy of Late Capitalist Development’
The study of late capitalist development is often characterised as a battle between protagonists of market-led vs state-led development. For the latter position, Alexander Gerschenkron looms large, as one of the most significant theorists of state-led development under conditions of relative backwardness. There are striking similarities between Gerschenkron’s explication of the advantages of backwardness and Trotsky’s concept of uneven and combined development and the privilege of backwardness. (These similarities have been commented upon often but rarely subject to closer comparison): Indeed, both men share a common problematic – the comprehension of how economically backward countries could skip stages of development in order to join the ranks of economically advanced countries. This paper compares their conception of this problematic and illustrates how in a number of areas the two are complementary. These are: Their rejection of unilinear patterns of capitalist development, their appreciation of the role of states and institutions in facilitating late development, and their understanding of development as a disruptive social process.  However, in crucial areas the two diverge. These are: Their comprehension of international economic and political relations, the role and position of labour in late development, and ultimately, the potential for late capitalist development to unleash social upheavals and further, non-capitalist transformations. Overall, I suggest how Trotsky and Gerschenkron’s approaches can complement each other, but that ultimately they represent fundamentally opposed approaches to human development.

Coffee Break, 3.30pm – 4.00pm

Session Two, 4.00pm – 6.00pm

Mick Dunford (Sussex)
‘Combined and Uneven Development: A Geographical Perspective’

John Hobson (Sheffield)
‘What’s at Stake in the Neo-Trotskyist Debate? Towards a Non-Eurocentric Historical Sociology of Uneven and Combined Development’
This piece seeks to advance what is being termed ‘third wave historical sociology of IR’ (HSIR). In particular I consider how a third-wave ‘non-Eurocentric’ HSIR could be developed by entering into the extant internecine debate that is raging within the newly emergent neo-Trotskyist school of HSIR. At one extreme lies Justin Rosenberg who argues that the concept of uneven and combined development (U&CD) should be historically generalised while the majority position insists that U&CD is specific only to the modern capitalist era (e.g., Ashman, Davidson, Allinson and Anievas). Here I provide some support for the Rosenberg position, by arguing that failure to historically generalise the concept beyond modern capitalism leads into the cul-de-sac of Eurocentrism. As a counter, I spend the majority of the piece sketching the outlines of a non-Eurocentric theory of U&CD by considering the ‘rise of the West’ as a case of a late-developing civilization; and in the process sketching the basis for an adequate third-wave non-Eurocentric HSIR.

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Ben Linus Taking Control

TAKING CONTROL- UPDATE 21st JANUARY 2011

Taking Control: registration now open
SOAS, University of London, 12th March 2011

Keynote: Professor Jodi Dean

Other speakers include: Professor Peter Hallward, Dr Alberto Toscano, Dr Paul Blackledge

This conference is concerned with control.  On what it means today – under globalised late capitalism – to take or be in control of institutions, whether political, economic, or academic.  We are concerned with theorising how to take control, and on what to do when we take it.  We want to focus not on the dangers of control – since the corrupting effects of power have been amply theorized – but rather on what it means to take responsibility and effect change, and what this change could be.

That is, how can a vision for society be enacted in practical terms? What is the role of democratic participation in this process of mastering social change?  And how do we remain accountable as we take control.  Does taking control mean working against, within or beside the existing institutional structure?

This question remains under-theorised in contemporary critical political theory – which often remains limited to the critique of the status quo. Without the impulse to take responsibility and take control, this critique becomes meaningless – it results in a de facto acceptance.  Where projects like the ‘Idea of Communism’ stop, this conference seeks to take the next step.  It must be situated along work such as the Turbulence Collective’s ‘What it means to win’ volume and Erik-Olin-Wright’s ‘Envisioning Utopias’.

We are clear that the idea of communism remains important and a project to be fought for.  However in the strategic question we are at an impasse, how to take control and implement a new communism? The vanguard model seems discredited, but the model of the multitude seems non-committal, a mere waiting for things to gradually come together, resulting in a de facto withdrawal from the social. Even more than this impasse, in times of late capitalism the very meaning of what being in control entails is no longer clear.  We want to move from thinking about the idea of communism to implementing it.

The event is free to attend but registration is essential.  Please email takingcontrol2011@gmail.com

Organised by ES: Philosophy Research Collective

With support from the Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS

Department of Politics, Goldsmiths

For more information see http://takingcontrol2011.wordpress.com

Update 2nd March 2011:

Full Programme: http://takingcontrol2011.wordpress.com

Registration: takingcontrol2011@gmail.com

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com

Ben Linus

TAKING CONTROL

SOAS, University of London, 12th March 2011

This conference is concerned with control.  On what it means today – under globalised late capitalism – to take or be in control of institutions, whether political, economic, or academic.  We are concerned with theorising how to take control, and on what to do when we take it.  We want to focus not on the dangers of control – since the corrupting effects of power have been amply theorized – but rather on what it means to take responsibility and effect change, and what this change could be.

That is, how can a vision for society be enacted in practical terms? What is the role of democratic participation in this process of mastering social change?  And how do we remain accountable as we take control.  Does taking control mean working against, within or beside the existing institutional structure?

This question remains under-theorised in contemporary critical political theory – which often remains limited to the critique of the status quo. Without the impulse to take responsibility and take control, this critique becomes meaningless – it results in a de facto acceptance.  Where projects like the ‘Idea of Communism’ stop, this conference seeks to take the next step.  It must be situated along work such as the Turbulence Collective’s ‘What it means to win’ volume and Erik Olin-Wright’s ‘Envisioning Utopias’.

We are clear that the idea of communism remains important and a project to be fought for.  However in the strategic question we are at an impasse, how to take control and implement a new communism? The vanguard model seems discredited, but the model of the multitude seems non-committal, a mere waiting for things to gradually come together, resulting in a de facto withdrawal from the social. Even more than this impasse, in times of late capitalism the very meaning of what being in control entails is no longer clear.  We want to move from thinking about the idea of communism to implementing it.

We invite 300 word abstracts for 20-minute papers dealing with these and other issues concerning control. 

Please send abstracts, along with your name and institutional affiliation, to BOTH Alexej Ulbricht (a.ulbricht@soas.ac.uk) and Luke Evans (cu701le@gold.ac.uk) by 23rd December 2010.

Posted here by Glenn Rikowski

The Flow of Ideas: http://www.flowideas.co.uk

MySpace Profile: http://www.myspace.com/glennrikowski

The Ockress: http://www.theockress.com

Rikowski Point: http://rikowskipoint.blogspot.com

Glenn Rikowski on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/glenn.rikowski

Volumizer: http://glennrikowski.blogspot.com