Book Review from the July 2011 issue of the Socialist Standard
Marxism and World Politics. Contesting Global Capitalism. Ed by Alexander Anievas. Routledge, 2011
One of the roles of academics is to clarify the concepts used in everyday talk. The trouble is that today they are obliged to come up with something new, so now we have “MIRT” – Marxist International Relations Theory – , though most of those involved seem to be Trotskyist or Trotskyoid.
The basic subject is interesting. Why, when there is only one global economic system, is the world divided into separate states? Is this something capitalism created or did it simply inherit it? Is it intrinsically necessary to capitalism? Could capitalism exist with a single world state? If not, why not?
These are discussed by the different authors in this collection of articles. The clearest and most informative, in terms of setting out the issues simply, is that by Neil Davidson. Most of the others employ an obscure terminology which no-one outside academia, indeed outside the small circle of those discussing MIRT, uses. As one of them revealingly, but apparently unself-consciously, noted:
“A fellow traveller amongst Marxist circles – though not a Marxist himself – once asked us what was all the fuss about U&CD and ‘the international’. In exasperation with the whole debate, he threw up his hands declaring: ‘This uneven and combined shit is the dog’s whistle that only Marxists can hear’!”
True, very true, as long as you substitute “Trotskyist” for “Marxist”.