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									International Relations Theory


              Week 7:
              Marxism and Neo-
              Gramscian Approaches
    Introduction

    1.   Marxism offers a tradition of thinking about world
         affairs inspirational to many.
    2.   Marxism does not start with anarchy so the
         differences with mainstream thinking are stark
    3.   Marxism as an intellectual approach should be
         distinguished from political regimes historically
         associated with Marxism.
    4.   Marxism may still be relevant even as those
         regimes pass into history.

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    Outline

    1.    Marx on History
    2.    Marx on Capitalism
    3.    Marx on International Relations
    4.    Lenin
    5.    Criticism
    6.    Cox and the Neo-Gramscians
    7.    Cox’s Purpose
    8.    Cox on History
    9.    Cox on Hegemony
    10.   Criticism

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    Marx on History

    1.   For Marx, history has a progressive quality.
         Structures grow, mature and die.
    2.   This view of history derives from Hegel’s notion of
         dialectical change.
    3.   Modes of production punctuate history.
    4.   Modes have characteristic relations of production
         (classes) and forces of production (eg. agriculture
         vs industry).
    5.   Marx wanted to understand forces/relations of our
         own capitalist era. Through these he sought to
         understand change.

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    Marx on Capitalism

    1.   For Marx, class is central to understanding capitalism. Class
         is the idea that people can be grouped together based on
         their relations of production.
    2.   Marx assumed a world in which only labour produces value.
    3.   He argued that the class that owned the means of production
         exploited the other class by extracting surplus value from it.
    4.   Surplus value is that portion of labour time not paid to workers
         in their wages, but kept by owners and managers.
    5.   Marx observed that factory production would concentrate
         workers together, raise their class consciousness and provide
         the basis for revolution, to the next mode of production.


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    Marx on International Relations

    1.   This vision of historical change and political
         revolution did not value sovereignty.
    2.   Marxists then and now do not see anarchy as a
         central issue.
    3.   Laws of motion of capitalism are much more
         important.
    4.   Unlike followers such as Lenin, Marx thought
         capitalism would transform colonial territories much
         like it had Europe and America.

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    Marx on IR II

    1.   Because of the combination of domestic and international
         concerns, Marxists were pioneers in the study of MNCs.
    2.   Much Marxist writing in IR has focused on the effects of the
         crises of capitalism on how states behave.
    3.   Basic idea is that capitalism is prone to contradictions (such
         as between production and consumption) and that these
         stimulate much of the conflict we attribute to other causes.
    4.   Peace in IR will come not with end of anarchy, but with end of
         capitalist crises, suggest Marxists.




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    Lenin

    1.   Lenin suggested competition between capitalist
         states to acquire colonial territories reflected the
         falling rate of profit in Europe.
    2.   The role of states was to create an imperialist
         foreign policy to restore the rate of profit by
         providing new territories for investment.
    3.   Gains from this policy would, suggested Lenin, give
         higher skilled workers at home better wages,
         lowering the likelihood of revolution in rich states.

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    Criticism

    1.   From mainstream view Marx ignores all that
         matters in IR: sovereignty, anarchy, war.
    2.   Lack of appreciation of politics in Marx’s
         Capital addressed by development of
         Marxist state theory from late 1960s.
    3.   But this state theory still says little about
         interaction between states, just as Realists
         say little about what happens inside states.
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     Criticism II

     1.   Marxism is high up the ladder of abstraction versus
          other IR theories.
     2.   It is a critical not a problem-solving approach.
     3.   Things that count are capitalism, social classes and
          class struggle.
     4.   Marxists think change is possible, and comes in
          revolutions.
     5.   Marxists are optimistic about the future, guided by
          a theory that says capitalism is contradictory and
          doomed.


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     Cox and the Neo-Gramscians

     1.   In the 120 years since Marx’s death many
          attempts made to revise his thinking.
     2.   Work of Robert W. Cox has had much
          impact on IR in last 30 years.
     3.   Cox’s theory is in part built on the thinking
          of Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Communist
          leader of the 1930s murdered by Mussolini.


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     Cox’s Purpose

     1.   Adopting a favourite Frankfurt School distinction, Cox argued
          “Theory is always for someone and for some purpose” (Cox
          with Sinclair, 1996: 87).
     2.   Most theory is written, claims Cox, by the privileged and
          seeks to reinforce the status quo. This is what Cox calls
          problem-solving theory. Most social science and therefore
          most IR has this purpose.
     3.   Cox says his own work has a different purpose, a critical
          one. He wants to look beyond the status quo and work toward
          a normatively superior system. He seeks a more equitable
          world than he thinks capitalism can provide.



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     Cox on History
     1.   Cox rejects the idea of “universally valid laws” that drive
          human action. The world, and how it works, are better
          characterised by change than continuity.
     2.   Cox assumes all established regimes tend to produce
          resistance and therefore are not static. How things develop
          depends on conflict between social forces.
     3.   Like Marx, Cox gives priority to what happens in work. Cox’s
          work is in this respect a return to traditional Marxist concerns
          except that his sense of what is production is not narrowly
          defined as seems to be the case in Marx’s work.
     4.   The emphasis on production and work means that Cox is very
          much within the Marxist tradition in identifying social forces
          defined by relations of production.


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     Cox on History II

     1.   In addition to the focus on class, Cox is also
          concerned with elites within classes,
          defined by technocratic and leadership
          roles.
     2.   Cox’s interest in the political role of ideas
          distinguishes him from many Marxists.
     3.   Cox’s concern with ideas stems from his
          emphasis on leadership or agency within
          social forces.
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     Cox and Hegemony

     1.   For Cox, Gramsci provides concepts that acutely describe key
          political processes in the formation and transformation of
          historical structures. I will discuss hegemony, counter-
          hegemomy and trasformismo.
     2.   What is distinctive about hegemony in Gramsci’s account, is
          that it focuses on the generation of consent, with the
          potential for coercion.
     3.   Systems of political alliance and control over society, and of
          world order, tend to generate opposition to themselves –
          counter-hegemony - as those not included in the bloc have an
          interest in organizing against it.



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     Cox and Hegemony II

     1.   Trasformismo is the idea that leading
          elements of counter-hegemonic forces will
          be brought into the hegemony.
     2.   This co-option undermines their radical anti-
          hegemonic position.
     3.   Trasformismo is part of the arsenal of
          hegemonic maintenance for Cox.


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     Criticism

     1.   Cox’s account is critical in purpose, entails a wide
          and inclusive set of things that count, focuses on
          change and is very optimistic about the potential for
          human improvement.
     2.   Cox’s development of Marx made Marx more
          relevant to IR.
     3.   Critics have pointed to contradictions, exclusions
          and confusion in the approach: class vs. elite;
          feminism; place of production.

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     Seminar Questions

     1.   How does Marxism conceive of the state?
     2.   How does capitalism structure International
          Relations?
     3.   How do Neo-Gramscians conceive of
          hegemony?
     4.   How do Marxists and Neo-Gramscians differ
          in their conceptions of resistance?

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     Exercise

     1.   You have been asked to comment on International Relations Theory
          for a program on Radio 4 (Laurie Taylor’s Thinking Allowed).

     2.   Laurie is interested in whether Marxist theory is still considered
          relevant by academics after the cold war’s demise.

     3.   In three points, explain to the listeners in what ways Marxism might still
          make a worthwhile contribution to understanding International
          Relations.




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     Main Points
     1.   Although the writings of Karl Marx were largely about
          domestic conditions they have been inspirational to
          generations of IR theorists.
     2.   The most important idea to understand is class. Class is the
          idea that people can be grouped together based on their
          relations to production.
     3.   Cox’s work has been very influential for those outside or
          critical of the mainstream American approaches, yet also
          concerned about dogma in the Marxist tradition.
     4.   Robert Cox’s work has made some of Marx’s ideas seem
          more applicable to IR than was once the case.
     5.   We examine feminist and postmodern approaches in a two-
          hour lecture next week.


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