Global Politics, Capitalism, Socio-Ecological Crisis, and Resistance: Exploring the Linkages and the Challenges

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    This paper engages critically with a set of broadly Marxian-based approaches to the relationship between global politics and processes of capital accumulation. This is then used to inform analysis of the dynamics underlying the multiple but inter-linked crises of food, environment (energy/climate/biodiversity), and finance. The first section assesses the work of Callinicos in his focus on renewed inter-imperialist rivalry, in which the USA is seen as wanting to secure access to, and control over, key resources to secure capital accumulation in intensifying competition with China and other capitalist powers. This approach is compared to the work of Panitch, Gindin, and Kiely in which they revive Kautsky’s notion of ultra-imperialism – here US hegemonic power is assumed to lead other capitalist states in the re-organisation of the global economy. It is argued that, ultimately, both approaches examine only the external relations between the separate but linked logics of capital and global politics. They also neglect the crucial role of the biophysical domain in defining key parameters surrounding capital accumulation.
    In the second section, the paper develops an alternative approach to understanding capitalist expansion, its relation to global politics and current crises. By drawing from Rosa Luxembourg’s spatial account of the accumulation of capital and expansion into non-capitalist spaces through on- going processes of primitive accumulation, the structuring conditions of capitalist expansion are conceptualised. Through a critical engagement with William Robinson’s work on the emergence of the transnational state, and that of Jason Moore on ‘world ecology’, the paper develops a conceptualisation of the agency of different class fractions within the inter-state system and their relationship to the crises of food, environment, and finance. In the third section, the paper addresses resistances to these crises. The hegemony of trans-nationalised fractions of capital, often, although not always, led by the USA through ‘ultra-imperialism’, is challenged by sub-hegemonic national capital fractions of some BRICS, notably China and Brazil. But this merely perpetuates the crises of capitalism through policies of neo-developmentalism and neo-extractivism. These are challenged in turn by counter-hegemonic forces seeking food/land/territorial sovereignty. The dynamics of this relationship between hegemonic, sub-hegemonic and counter-hegemonic forces – between global politics, the state, and social movements – are examined, particularly in relation to Latin America.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationGlobal governance/politics, climate justice & agrarian/social justice: linkages and challenges
    Place of PublicationThe Hague
    PublisherInternational Institute of Social Studies
    Number of pages20
    Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016
    EventGlobal governance/politics, climate justice & agrarian/social justice: linkages and challenges: An international colloquium - The Hague, Netherlands
    Duration: 4 Feb 20165 Feb 2016

    Publication series

    NameInitiatives in Critical Agrarian Studies International Colloquium
    PublisherISS, The Hague


    ConferenceGlobal governance/politics, climate justice & agrarian/social justice: linkages and challenges
    CityThe Hague


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