‘Market Civilization’ and Global Agri-Food: Understanding their Dynamics and (In)Coherence through Multiple Resistances

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    Gill (2014) has recently described neoliberalism as ‘market civilization’ – ‘market’ and ‘civilization’ capturing its twin material and legitimacy underpinnings. Many features of ‘market civilization’ are embodied in the neoliberal agri-food regime. This paper examines the (in)coherence of these underpinnings and asks how this is being/may be subverted through resistances. Both ‘market civilization’ and the neoliberal agri-food regime are often conceptualized in terms that are perhaps too ‘structuralist’ or ‘monolithic’ in character, creating a somewhat simplistic binary between ‘systemic’ accumulation and ‘anti-systemic’ resistance. This ‘structuralist’ and ‘monolithic’ reading radically oversimplifies both the nature and coherence of market civilization and resistances to it. The relative ‘resilience’ of market civilization lies in its ability to reproduce through co-optation and compromise (Gramscian hegemony), leading to its polylithic and variegated character. This variegated character is structured around the intimate relation between capitalism and the state, and has the effect of blurring boundaries between capitalism and its ‘other’. Rather than a binary, the reality appears to be a spectrum of ‘class’-based positions extending from hegemonic, through sub-hegemonic and alter-hegemonic, to counter-hegemonic. How, then, to define, let alone achieve, more radical, counter-hegemonic resistances to global agri-food? The paper goes on to suggest that we require a more precise definition of capitalism and a better understanding of the capital-state nexus if we are to subvert it through a new frontier of resistance as counter-hegemony. Such resistance, the paper argues, will need to be focused on contesting market dependence through food and land sovereignty. These issues are illustrated by reference to the complex interplay of capital, state, and class struggle in Latin America.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationResistance to the Neoliberal Agri-Food Regime
    Subtitle of host publicationA Critical Analysis
    EditorsAlessandro Bonanno, Steven Wolf
    Place of PublicationUSA
    Number of pages14
    ISBN (Electronic)978-1-315-19243-7
    ISBN (Print)978-1-138-72337-5
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017

    Publication series

    NameEathscan Food and Agriculture


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