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The Reconfiguration of the Global State–Capital Nexus



Noting an apparent 'return' of the state this article analyzes the rearticulation of state-capital relations in the context of the current global crisis. Departing from the notion that capital and state are internally related, we distinguish four roles that the state can play with respect to capital accumulation and on that basis examine to what extent and how the state-capital nexus is reconfigured in both the global South and global North. We argue that in spite of a more activist role of the state in the latter and the rise of globalizing yet state-led accumulation strategies in the former, the globalizing dynamic of capital and the concomitant deepening commodification go on unabated. The 'rebound of the state' that is the focus of this special issue is thus seen as instrumental to an ongoing globalization of capital, notwithstanding significant power shifts arising out of this contradictory process.
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The Reconfiguration of the Global
State–Capital Nexus
Bastiaan van Apeldoorn
, Naná de Graaff
& Henk Overbeek
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Version of record first published: 02 Aug 2012
To cite this article: Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, Naná de Graaff & Henk Overbeek (2012): The Reconfiguration of
the Global State–Capital Nexus, Globalizations, 9:4, 471-486
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The Reconfiguration of the Global StateCapital Nexus
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
ABSTRACT Noting an apparent ‘return’ of the state this article analyzes the rearticulation of
statecapital relations in the context of the current global crisis. Departing from the notion that
capital and state are internally related, we distinguish four roles that the state can play with
respect to capital accumulation and on that basis examine to what extent and how the state
capital nexus is reconfigured in both the global South and global North. We argue that in
spite of a more activist role of the state in the latter and the rise of globalizing yet state-led
accumulation strategies in the former, the globalizing dynamic of capital and the concomitant
deepening commodification go on unabated. The ‘rebound of the state’ that is the focus of
this special issue is thus seen as instrumental to an ongoing globalization of capital,
notwithstanding significant power shifts arising out of this contradictory process.
Keywords: state capital nexus, state theory, capital accumulation, global crisis, globalization
Global capitalism is in a deep crisis. Since the outbreak of the subprime crisis in the US in 2007,
successive destabilizing waves have gone through the global economy. The trajectory of the
crisis has made it clear that we are not simply dealing with a singular financial crisis, but
with an underlying crisis of overaccumulation, and with a crisis of the neoliberal hegemonic
project that has shaped the course of global capitalism for the past decades. This structural pol-
itical and economic crisis is furthermore intimately linked to the deepening ecological crisis as
well as bound up with an increasingly palpable power shift to the East within the global political
economy. The accumulation regime of the post-World War II era was based on the intensifica-
tion and global spread of hydrocarbon-based energy and transportation systems that are threaten-
ing the survival of the ecosystems of our planet. At the same time, the supremacy of the West,
established in the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries, appears to be waning with the decline of US
Correspondence Address: Bastiaan van Apeldoorn, Department of Political Science, De Boelelaan 1081, 1081 HV
Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Email:
ISSN 1474-7731 Print/ISSN 1474-774X Online/12/04047116 # 2012 Taylor & Francis
August 2012, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 471 486
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hegemony and the rise of Asia as a rival centre of accumulation. The hegemonic transition that
this potentially implies has been both reflected and reinforced by the global financial and econ-
omic crisis of which the US itself has been the epicenter. There is an abundance of literature on
the crisis and on many of its aspects.
It is striking, however, that one crucial aspect of the crisis
has so far received little attention, and that is the changing role of the state.
In the early days of the crisis some suggested that the crisis of liberal capitalism heralded a
return of the state and of statist regulation. The ‘return of state capitalism’ and the ‘return of
the state’ became popular catchphrases in the financial press (e.g. The Economist, 2008; Finan-
cial Times, 2008). Indeed, two recent developments appeared to lend support to this notion.
First, in the crisis-ridden core of the global economy, a full-blown depression was averted by
the state taking over the reins from capital, saving the hypertrophied financial sector from col-
lapse by huge bail-outs or even outright nationalization, and subsequently by unprecedented
‘stimulus programs’ sustaining overall demand where ‘the market’ was unable to. It soon tran-
spired, however, that increased state activism did not in any way represent a return to the type of
interventionist state known from the days of the postwar boom. In fact, as the crisis in the core
entered its next phase from 2010 onwards in which the bail-outs and the stimulus programmes
turned out to have been only a partial success while coming at the price of rapidly rising sover-
eign debt, governments in both North America and in the crisis-ridden Eurozone have turned to
austerity in a futile attempt to pacify the financial markets. This new phase of the crisis has raised
new questions with regard to the relationship between capital and the state: if the increased role
of the state does not represent a return to the corporate liberal configuration of the 1950s1970s,
while there is arguably also a clear move away from the peculiar neoliberal configuration of the
1990s and early 2000s, then how should we understand these changes and the emerging new
configuration of the 2010s?
Second, countries outside the core such as Brazil, India, and especially China initially
managed to escape the contraction of the world economy as a result of state-led efforts to
sustain and even accelerate accumulation through successful programs of capital controls, infra-
structural investment, demand stimulus, and technological upgrading (see the contribution by
Schmalz and Ebenau in this issue). The immediately visible result was the accelerated rise of
new corporate giants from the global South, both (quasi-) private and state-owned, in manufac-
turing, services, energy, and finance. This has reinforced a longer-term rise of capital from the
global South going hand in hand with the assertion of a newly confident state-based authority on
the part of some rising powers (in particular China and Russia). In some cases these states seem
to position themselves as contender states vis-a
-vis the West. This happened at the same time
that the leading power of the West itself, the US state, came to re-emphasize and bolster the ter-
ritorial and coercive aspects of its imperialist power.
Together, these trends indeed appear to signal a fundamental power shift in favor of the state.
However, such a conclusion would be misleading inasmuch as it fails to grasp that capital and
the state are internally related: state power cannot be abstracted from the private power of
capital. Hence, we focus our attention in the remainder of this article on key aspects of what
we call the statecapital nexus and we will examine to what extent and how this nexus is recon-
figured in the context of the current global crisis. We thus seek to throw light on how the
‘Rebound of the State’—the focus of this special issue—is related to what we see as the
ongoing globalizing dynamic of capital. Though the contradictions of neoliberal globalization
have brought us into the current crisis, the crisis, and the responses to it by states and elites,
has not yet dented the secular trend of deepening commodification accompanying accumulation
capital accumulation on a world scale.
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Rather than amounting to some one-dimensional ‘return of the state’, the trajectory of the
crisis over the past few years has rather been marked by the combination of a ‘return of the
state’ with a continued deepening of the process of capitalist transnationalization and globali-
zation. In order to make sense of this contradictory movement our key points of departure are
(1) the nature of the capitalist state as the institutional ensemble necessary to guarantee the
general conditions for capital accumulation and the reproduction of any capitalist social
formation, and (2) the nature of the state as a territorial power container (Taylor, 1994) and
the particular functions of territoriality in the reproduction of the capitalist global order. The
two aspects are related inasmuch as global capitalism has been bound up with and mediated
by a pre-existing system of territorially demarcated states from its inception (Teschke and
Lacher, 2007).
Following the above-noted trends, we will distinguish between a rearticulation of state and
capital within the traditional core of the capitalist world economy, that is, within what after
World War II became the liberal ‘West’, and outside that traditional core, in particular (but not
exclusively) in those rising powers that are now fashionably referred to as the BRICs (Brazil,
Russia, India, China). In both cases we argue that the transformation of the state capital
nexus does not imply the state abandoning the project of global commodification. On the con-
trary, both in the core and in the erstwhile periphery state strategies seem to be geared towards
deepening commodification of labor and nature rather than towards de-commodification.
The remainder of this article is organized as follows. In section two, we elaborate the general
relationship between state and capital in the accumulation process. Then, section three turns to a
discussion of the changing state capital nexus in the Western heartland of global capitalism.
Finally, section four provides a discussion of the apparent rise of statist capitalism in the
‘global South’.
The Role of the State in Capital Accumulation
Although in the context of the current crisis the critical role of the state within capitalism is plain
for everyone to see, for a long time this has been rather hidden by a neoliberal ideology sustain-
ing the myth of laissez-faire capitalism enabled by the negation rather than the application of
state power. This myth has often been mirrored in many leftist (esp. popular) critiques, invoking
the image of the state being subordinated to overpowering market forces. In much academic lit-
erature these distortions have tended to be sustained, even if inadvertently, by a dichotomous
discourse of states versus markets, or the notion that states and markets are by definition opposite
forces and markets can only expand where states retreat and vice versa (e.g. Strange, 1996;
Underhill, 2001; Weiss, 1998; cf. Schwartz, 2010, for a slightly different approach). For
many this has made the ‘return of the state’ so remarkable and unexpected, whereas in fact of
course the state was never gone in the first place. In some sense the extension of markets
may indeed involve ‘rolling back the frontiers of the state’, as Margaret Thatcher put it, but it
is critical to understand how this is true, and in which way the state—despite appearances to
the contrary—remains critical with respect to the reproduction of the capitalist system, even
in its most liberal mode.
Going beyond ‘state market’ conceptualizations, we draw upon state theory within Marxian
political economy (e.g. Holloway and Picciotto, 1978; Jessop, 1990) and Polanyi’s insights into
the emergence of market society to distinguish four roles the state plays with respect to the
capital accumulation process (focusing narrowly on the relationship between capital and the
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1 Market creation: helping to bring about, and if necessary re-establish, and generally ensure
the effective functioning, of markets—including the markets for what Polanyi (1957) called
the ‘fictitious commodities’ of labour, land, and money, which are a precondition for capi-
talist accumulation;
2 Market correction: mitigating the destructive social effects of those same markets or, more
generally speaking, managing the capital labour relationship and reproducing the subordi-
nation of living labor to capital;
3 Market direction: directing and supervising capital accumulation where private capital fails
to do so;
4 External representation: representing the external interests of ‘domestic’ capital, ranging
from the practice of economic diplomacy to the forceful protection and promotion of
business interests if need be by military means.
Whereas the first role is a necessary condition for the consolidation of capitalism, and the
second role is arguably necessary for its social reproduction, the third role, which if taken to
its extreme would actually contradict the logic of capitalism, is more contingent. The first
three roles can be abstractly understood as referring to the ‘capitalist state’ as such, without
reference to the existence of a plurality of states (i.e. the states system). That is, although
each of these three roles may have an external dimension, they in the first instance refer to
the internal role of the state, i.e. to the relation between state and capital within the territory
over which the state exercises sovereignty. The fourth role is explicitly external inasmuch as
here the state acts as protector of capital outside the borders of its territory (referring to the his-
torical genesis of the bourgeois state, Heide Gerstenberger called this ‘merkantile Aussenvertre-
tung’—literally ‘external mercantile representation’; Gerstenberger, 1973). In the contemporary
era of global capitalism, this role transcends the limitations of the national. The statecapital
nexus thus refers first of all to the (internal) relationship between the state and capital in
general, and at the level of the world market this brings into view the specific role of the hege-
monic state, and of global quasi-state institutions (van der Pijl, 1998) or what Cox called the
internationalized state (Cox, 1987) in guaranteeing the rule of capital globally. Let us look at
each role somewhat more closely.
Regarding the first role, we must note that although markets existed in pre-capitalist social
formations, it is only within capitalism that commodities are specifically produced for the
market, and the production process itself is regulated by the market mechanism, involving, as
Polanyi (1957, p. 71) argued, the subordination of ‘the substance of society itself to the laws
of the market’, thus primarily emphasizing the sphere of distribution. Marx, of course, essen-
tially described the same process, which he aptly referred to as capital taking ‘command of pro-
duction itself’, thus however placing more emphasis on the real subsumption of labour under
capital in the production process (1991, p. 444). Crucially, capitalism is not an outgrowth of
a natural ‘commercialization process’ (Wood, 2002); rather, it is the effect of historically
specific social (class) relations expressed in, as well as brought about by, the state. One of the
most lasting insights offered by Polanyi is that the ‘self-regulating market’ is a ‘utopia’ and
that the state has always played an essential role in establishing capitalist markets and in creating
the ‘fictitious commodities’ of land, labour, and money (1957, pp. 6876). As van Apeldoorn
and Horn (2007, p. 215) point out it is the state that provides the (interrelated) institutional pre-
conditions for capitalist markets to arise and develop: for example, by enabling certain ‘things’
to be turned into commodities; by creating and guaranteeing property rights; by issuing and sus-
taining the value of money; and by ensuring sufficiently competitive markets through, for
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example, competition law. This underlines the internal relationship between capital and the state
in any, even a neoliberal, capitalist economy.
Now, within the limits of the capitalist mode of production the role of the state is not
exhausted by providing these institutional and political preconditions. The role of the state
may go, and often has gone, and sometimes in order to ‘save the system’, must go, beyond
this role in several ways. Going beyond here does not necessarily mean gaining in importance
but it does mean acquiring a more direct and more visible role vis-a
-vis and within the capitalist
economy. The second role of the state in capitalist social formations is again one we find in the
work of Polanyi and in his account of the double movement in which the capitalist market is
(re-)embedded lest it should fall victim to its own utopia and destroy the social fabric by
which it is sustained. Here embeddedness can be taken to mean that ‘society, in and through
the agency of a wide range of social forces, seeks to constrain the destructive anarchy of the
free market by subjecting it to various forms of extra-economic regulation that nonetheless
support and sustain capital accumulation’ (Jessop, 2001, p. 3). Examples of such ‘extra-
economic regulation’ include the whole plethora of social policies associated with the welfare
state. These policies may perform the function of avoiding capitalism’s collapse under the
weight of its own contradictions but they may also potentially be ‘anti-capitalist’ in nature
and, depending on politics, ultimately transcend capitalist relations of production. More to the
point, the role of the state here is not directly oriented to (sustaining) capital accumulation as
such, but rather to mitigating its disruptive social effects.
The third role, which also goes beyond the political constitution of capitalist markets and
comes closest to the established notion of ‘state capitalism’ (as will be discussed in the final
section of this article), is becoming more important within the global political economy with
what misleadingly is seen as the ‘return of the state’. Where this role or function manifests
itself, the state plays a directing role in the capitalist accumulation process itself: seeking to
foster, guide, and direct capital accumulation not through the establishment of markets and
the freeing up of market forces but by taking up a role of its own as an agent of capital accumu-
lation. This can happen under conditions of stalemate between social forces locked in indecisive
class conflict (as under fascism and National Socialism in the Interbellum: see Cox, 1987,
pp. 140 ff.), or in the pursuit of a passive revolution from above in developmentalist states
(ibid., pp. 230 ff.) or what van der Pijl calls contender states engaged in a catch-up struggle
(van der Pijl, 2006; see also his contribution to this issue on China).
The fourth role can partly overlap with the first three roles, especially the roles of ‘market cre-
ation’ and ‘market direction’, but is here distinguished analytically in order to emphasize the
importance of the external dimension. Externally then, the state serves as the protector of ‘its’
capital on the world market. According to Gerstenberger, external representation was indeed
constitutive of the bourgeois state as such (Gerstenberger, 1973). The instruments employed
in this function range from direct commercial support to domestic firms (import levies, export
subsidies, conditionalities imposed on aid recipients, etc.), via traditional commercial diplomacy
(becoming increasingly dominant in the overall package of tasks assigned to the diplomatic
corps of advanced capitalist states in recent years) to the application of military power in
support of the competitive position of domestic capital on the world market. One only needs
to think of the extensive global military/security infrastructure—above all provided by the
US—that underpins worldwide free trade (‘the global market’) to illustrate the vast role of
the state in backing up capital accumulation on the world market (here then the external role
overlaps with the first role of ‘market creation’). Although with the ongoing globalization
process a substantial part of capital accumulation is transnationalized, capital nevertheless
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continues to be embedded in specific national sociopolitical structures. Transnational capital
often still has a strong national or regional (EU) home base and market while national
classes, as tied to transnationally oriented but still also partially nationally embedded capital,
tend to persist ‘underneath’ often regionally configured (rather than truly global) processes of
transnational class formation.
Having briefly outlined in rather general and abstract terms the role of the state in the process
of capital accumulation, we will now engage more directly with recent rearticulations of the
statecapital nexus under the impact of the global crisis, looking in turn at what appears to
be a more ‘activist ‘role of the state within the North Atlantic area, and at ‘return of state capit-
alism’ in the form of the increasing impact of ‘emerging economies’ of the global South and the
associated rise of state-owned enterprises on the world market.
The State Coming to the Rescue: Rearticulating the State Capital Nexus in the West
As indicated above, and as is by now well established in the literature (e.g. Birch and
Mykhnenko, 2010; Dume
nil and Le
vy, 2011; Overbeek and van Apeldoorn, 2012), neoliberal-
ism was never about the withering away of the state, or the decline of state power vis-a
markets with state and markets viewed in dichotomous terms. Neoliberalism, instead, rep-
resented a concerted intervention to shift the balance of class forces in response to the crisis
of the 1970s, that is, a ‘strategy of the capitalist classes in alliance with upper management,
specifically financial managers, intending to strengthen their hegemony and expand it globally’
nil and Le
vy, 2011, p. 1; see also Overbeek and van der Pijl, 1993). This strategy was
about confining the role of the state to guaranteeing the general conditions for capital accumu-
lation and the creation of markets where they did not exist, and hence bringing more and more
areas of social life under the discipline of capital. States have done so through activist policies of
privatization and marketization but the result of that has been that the state itself has receded into
the background, still playing a key regulatory role but not interfering with the price mechanism
as such (see also van Apeldoorn and Horn, 2007). Indeed, in many areas and at different levels of
governance we have witnessed a ‘marketization’ of regulation itself (e.g. see Buch-Hansen and
Wigger, 2011; and Horn, 2011). Although these neoliberal transformations are global processes,
as a political project neoliberalism must be viewed as centred within and led by the liberal West,
above all the US. Neoliberalism was after all a response to a hegemonic crisis within this
The near collapse of global financial markets in 2008 appeared to herald the final demise of
the neoliberal project as states came to the rescue through bail-outs and even nationalization. The
state had not only intervened to save an inflated financial sector, but governments across the
OECD also seemed ready to respond to a groundswell of public opinion calling for tougher
public control of in particular those financial activities—such as trading in mortgage backed
securities, credit default swaps, and other derivatives—that most clearly remind us of Marx’s
observation that it is in the nature of credit to develop ‘the motive of capitalist production . . .
into the purest and most colossal system of gambling and swindling’ (Marx, 1991, p. 572).
With such strict regulatory control, and in conjunction with (partial) nationalization, we then
might have witnessed a shift towards what we have identified as the third (possible) role of capi-
talist states, that of directing and supervising capital accumulation—at least with regard to the
financial sector.
These expectations, however, have not been borne out. Government officials everywhere have
been adamant in proclaiming that state intervention in support of financial institutions was only a
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temporary measure, and that these institutions would be ‘returned to the market’ as soon as con-
ditions would allow. Thus, in public debates throughout the OECD, frequent references were
made to the Swedish experiences in the early 1990s (Jackson, 2008; New York Times, 2008),
where the Swedish state nationalized banks in trouble in 1992 and privatized them again
years later, making a profit in the process. In the US, nationalization of banks was effectively
ruled out as an option ‘[n]ot only’, Obama has explained, ‘because philosophically that would
have been a radical shift’ but also because of the expected market distortion (Susskind, 2011,
p. 457).
In the meantime, much of the financial sector itself quickly recovered with profits and bonuses
reaching pre-2008 levels again (on the recovery of the US financial sector, see e.g. Hager, 2012).
This has furthermore been taken as a confirmation of the wisdom of another path chosen by
states throughout the old capitalist core, which is to refrain from any radical regulatory overhaul
of the financial sector. Despite repeated calls for making finance the servant of the real economy
again, the freedom of financial capital—a freedom won after all the regulation of the New Deal/
Fordist era had been undone in the 1980s and 1990s—has remained largely untouched. In spite
of its awareness that something needed to be done, the crisis management of the Obama admin-
istration has largely stayed within the limits imposed by the powerful interest of Wall Street to
which Obama’s economic team has proven to be subservient throughout the crucial first years of
the administration, which came to office in the wake of Lehman’s fall. As documented by
Susskind (2011), Obama’s economic team, largely consisting of former Clinton officials respon-
sible for the deregulation of the 1990s and closely affiliated with Wall Street (see van Apeldoorn
and de Graaff in this issue), was first of all guided by the principle of ‘first, do no harm’
(Susskind, 2011, pp. 200 202, 417), that is, do not in any way intervene in the market if you
are not sure that this will not distort it or rather prevent the return to profitability within the finan-
cial sector. Although Obama in 2010 did sign the DoddFrank Act, which was hailed as the
biggest regulatory move since the Great Depression, this was simply because no reregulation,
but only deregulation, had taken place since. In fact, this financial reform package was very
watered down, largely because of the successful lobby by America’s leading financial
Within the context of the Euro crisis there is very little discussion of taking on the financial
sector, even though it is clear that here we can find one of the root causes of the so-called sover-
eign debt crisis (Overbeek, 2012a). The policy discourse on the part of Europe’s government
leaders has been limited to talk about a financial transactions tax, which, however, is effectively
blocked by the UK and arguably by those member states that are hiding behind it (and argue that
they would only favour it if the whole world would go along). The bail-outs have thus far then
not turned out to be a prelude to the state taking the reins from capital, but rather have turned out
to be just that what the name suggests, namely the bail-out of the bankers and the speculators
who, enabled by financial deregulation—that is the market-making role that the state played
in the neoliberal 1990s and 2000s—had increasingly been lured to Ponzi finance (Minsky,
1986). Here the state has proven its indispensability for the capitalist class, as without its inter-
vention, not only would the reigning financial aristocracy have been wiped out, but the reproduc-
tion of the global capitalist system as a whole would have been mortally endangered. Though
such a cataclysmic event would have arguably also hurt many ordinary people—especially
since world socialism was not waiting around the corner to take its place—the point is that
the conditions under which this ‘rescue’ has taken place have been highly beneficial above all
to the leading sections of the capitalist class. As David Harvey (2011, p. 266) concludes in
his recent book, what has been followed is the tried and tested recipe of ‘rescue the banks
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and sock it to the people’. Politically too, the banking world appears to be back in the driver’s
seat. In Europe, of all the societal interests affected by the debt crisis (wage earners, public sector
workers, pensioners, small enterprises) only the financial sector represented by the International
Institute of Finance (IIF) was able to obtain a seat at the negotiating table in a revealing display
of its structural power (CEO, 2012). In the context of the Eurozone crisis we have furthermore
seen the core states protecting their ‘own’ capital and markets by coercing the periphery into a
program of intensified austerity and retrenchment, that is, the fourth role of external represen-
tation—namely, the state acting on behalf of capital rather than in any way taking the reins of
the accumulation process into its own hands. In the US the ties between Washington and
Wall Street have remained as close as ever, and these ties have arguably partly prevented the
US administration from making any more forceful steps towards reversing financialization
and taking on the likes of Goldman Sachs (van Apeldoorn and de Graaff, 2012, and in this
issue; see also Susskind, 2011).
Finally, the enormous sums of public money being poured into the global economy to sustain
demand in the face of the total black-out in the global credit markets in 2008 2009 did not, we
know now, announce a full-scale return to Keynesian demand management. Rather, they turned
out to be an emergency measure soon to be replaced by a renewed and indeed even deeper
neoliberal offensive of austerity and retrenchment. In the Eurozone in particular, the discipline
imposed by the Troika is squeezing all life out of the peripheral economies in a desperate attempt
to uphold the German-led project of ‘competitiveness’ in a global context (e.g. Bellofiore
et al., 2010).
In sum, inasmuch as neoliberalism has been a program of restoring and subsequently reinfor-
cing the power of capital through a global project of marketization and commodification, the
crisis thus far seems not to have been able to seriously dent this. In terms of the framework out-
lined above, this means that in the West we thus far do not see a significant shift from the first,
market-making role of the state to the second and third roles of market correction and market
direction. In fact, the neoliberal programme in some respects appears to have gained an extra
lease of life, albeit less as a hegemonic project than as a (last?) flight forward in which the repres-
sive character comes to dominate the consensual aspects (as is so clearly demonstrated in the
periphery of the Eurozone). Neoliberalism’s continued ‘ecological dominance’ (Jessop, 2010)
has enabled the forces driving it—first and foremost US-led financial capital—to redraw the
boundaries between the public and the private, between the state and the market, pushing, yet
again, the reign of capital into new corners, destroying not only remnants of pre-capitalist
social relations but also leading on a global scale to what Saskia Sassen (2010) has aptly
called a ‘savage sorting or winners and losers’. The sustained erosion of wages and pensions,
the intensified privatization offensive in the area of welfare and health care, the forced sale of
state assets at fire sale prices in the indebted countries in the periphery of the Eurozone, the con-
tinued creation of new markets in the face of climate change and biodiversity depletion (carbon
credits, biodiversity banking), these all bear witness to the reality of yet another phase of aggres-
sive neoliberal privatization. Capital has successfully offloaded the losses that its speculative
flight forward of the 1990s and early 2000s caused, thus contributing to a massive redistribution
of wealth and income between the mass of the population on the one hand, and the top 1% of
wealth owners on the other. Focusing on the West or the ‘global North’, neoliberalism indeed
appears to arise from its ashes like a phoenix (cf. Peck, 2010, p. 275).
A more fundamental rearticulation of the statecapital nexus in the West may yet be in the
offing, but thus far it has remained limited as the state has rather played the role of protecting
the interests of capital in general by saving the capitalists from themselves, but not in a way
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that leads to any durable statist direction of the market but rather instrumentalizing the crisis to
promote further neoliberalization. Yet at the same time it must be recognized that neoliberalism
is no longer a hegemonic project and in that respect might be reaching, as van Apeldoorn and
Overbeek (2012) have suggested, the end of its life-cycle. Although for sure we cannot yet
observe either the emergence of an alternative accumulation strategy nor a concomitant hegemo-
nic project—evocative of what Gramsci (1971, p. 276) called the interregnum in which ‘the old
is dying but the new cannot yet be born’ (cf. Hay, 2011)—it is also clear that the consent among
significant sections of Western working and middle classes upon which neoliberal governance
previously rested has largely eroded.
In Europe, the move towards German-led, ever more extreme austerity is part of a conserva-
tive political project and in terms of accumulation strategy combines disciplinary neoliberalism
with a kind of mercantilism within the Eurozone of the Northern creditor and surplus states vis-
-vis the indebted and uncompetitive South (Overbeek, 2012a). Although these policies enjoy
support among at least significant sections of, for example, the German electorate, other
elements that were key to the neoliberal project before have clearly lost their legitimacy in
the wake of the crisis. This applies above all to financialization but also to marketization
more generally, including, for example, the project of shareholder capitalism or marketization
of corporate control promoted by the EU in recent years (Horn, 2011). While indeed, as
noted, this has not yet led to any significant reversal of these policies, it is difficult to see
how they can be sustained in the longer run without any renewed hegemonic project that
would somehow successfully incorporate them. Chances for such a renewal of neoliberal hege-
mony seem to be as dim though as the prospect for economic recovery. Regarding the latter,
another Europe-wide recession seems all but certain. As a result, massive social unrest of the
kind that at the time of writing continues to enflame Greece will likely spread even to the EU
heartland and further deepen the multilayered legitimacy crisis from which the EU—
reflecting the failure of the elite-driven neoliberal project that has been informing its pol-
icies—has been suffering even since before the current crisis (van Apeldoorn, 2009).
Indeed, resistance to the current austerity drive is already growing and not just in Southern
Europe. Currently—and especially with the election of Hollande to the French presidency—
the politics of the Eurozone appear to be reconfigured with an increasing chorus also from
within the political establishment calling for a growth agenda to at least complement if not miti-
gate fiscal discipline (Barber and Spiegel, 2012). Nevertheless it is far from clear whether this
shift will be sufficient to sway Germany and other creditor/surplus countries enough into the
direction of a more sensible set of policies with respect to the Eurozone crisis. And even if it
would, there is no guarantee that this would in fact prevent a break-up of the Eurozone.
In the US, the epicenter of the crisis, we can observe that Obama, as indicated, has thus far not
in any significant way broken with the neoliberal model. However, his discourse has recently
shifted back to a form of populism that claims to respond to middle class discontent by
seeking to create an economy in which ‘everyone gets a fair shot’ rather than an economy ‘wea-
kened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits’, and calling inter alia for higher
taxes for the 1% of highest earners (Obama, 2012). Whether this is more than campaign rhetoric
and actually constitutes an increased market correcting role of the state remains to be seen.
As Brenner et al. (2010) have suggested, neoliberalism is still walking but rather like a
zombie. Whether it will continue to do so, or whether it will return to the living through a regen-
erated hegemonic project, or whether it will finally go to its grave, of course depends upon strat-
egies adopted by elites as well as pursued by those resisting the current state capital nexus from
the streets of Athens to Zuccotti Park (cf. Konings as well as Horn in this issue). Thus whether
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the state and its relationship to capital can be reconfigured will in the end be determined by
broader social and political struggles. These struggles, however, are not confined to the West
and in order to come to a more comprehensive understanding of to what extent the role of the
state in the global political economy is changing we now turn our attention to the ‘global
South’, in particular that part of the South which is now emerging to challenge the power of
Western states and Western capital.
The Rise of a New Statist Capitalism? State-Owned Enterprises from the Global South
on the World Market
Talk of a new ‘state capitalism’ surged in particular in the wake of what was then still the sub-
prime crisis within the financial press and other circles of the Western financial elite. Thus early
in 2008 the Financial Times published an ‘in-depth’ dossier on its website entirely devoted to the
theme of state capitalism (Financial Times, 2008). The discourse constructed there tended to
view the new state capitalism as coming from the East, and in particular emanating from ‘illib-
eral’ and ‘autocratic’ regimes such as China and Russia, and as a threat to the interests of the
West and more specifically its free market model (e.g. Bremmer, 2008; Kagan, 2008).
In these discussions the term ‘state capitalism’ is used in a rather loose and a-theoretical way
as a colloquialism referring to a perceived tendency of an increased role of the state in the man-
agement of the economy (whether nationally or of the global economy as a whole). In the
Marxist tradition, state capitalism has had a much more precise and theoretical connotation,
employed by some as referring, rather confusingly, to the political economies of the Soviet
Union or pre-1979 China (e.g. Resnick and Wolff, 2002), while in another strand of older litera-
ture the term refers to strategies of economic development in the periphery (e.g. Petras, 1977).
With the collapse of communist rule in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and with the steady
march to market capitalism in China, the first usage of the concept has largely become one for
historians. The second meaning, referring to ‘catch-up’ strategies on the part of developmentalist
states outside the Western core, is arguably more relevant to understanding today’s rearticulation
of the statecapital nexus in what we may broadly define as the ‘global South’. However, given
the more specific meanings attached to the terms state capitalism in some literature, we here
prefer the term ‘statist capitalism’ (in analogy to Harris, 2009, who talks about statist globaliza-
tion) to describe what we see as a particular configuration of statecapital relations in which the
state’s third possible role as outlined above, namely that of in part directing the capital accumu-
lation process, is particularly pronounced. Staying within the confines of capitalism, we view
statist capitalism as a contingent phenomenon—which may manifest and has manifested
itself in varying historical circumstances—in which the role of the state tends to go beyond
what is normally deemed to be the essence of capitalism (that is, the private ownership and
control of the means of production) but stops before the point where most of the surplus
value would in effect be appropriated collectively rather than privately, and where capitalist
competition would cease to function as such.
We argue that the new statist capitalism on the one hand can still be associated with the strat-
egies of developing states seeking to catch up with—and in the process contend with—the power
of the West, but that, on the other hand, the nature and form of the new statist strategies are rather
different from those of the preceding era. The likely upshot of these developments is not a state-
led roll-back of global commodification processes, but rather their continuation by different
means. Also, although the rise of statist capitalism is unlikely to overturn the liberal global
order completely, it may very well be expected to considerably transform it. China in particular
480 B. van Apeldoorn et al.
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represents a different ‘variety of capitalism’ than that which has become hegemonic in the West.
As Kees van der Pijl notes in his contribution to this issue, the state class rather than capital is
sovereign in China, which at least leaves open the possibility that China’s rise will result in a
reshuffling of the structures of global governance, with a reduced role for market-based govern-
ance mechanisms and a greater role for inter-state bargaining.
There is of course a great variety in more particular forms of statist capitalism and ‘catch-up’
strategies among the various rising powers from the global South (see also the contribution by
Schmalz and Ebenau on these trajectories within Brazil, India, and China). An important distinc-
tion to be made, however, is between rentier strategies and developmentalist strategies
(Overbeek, 2012b).
Whereas the former refers to a strategy maximizing income derived
from the possession of natural resources (exploiting ‘natural advantages’), the latter constitutes
an investment-driven industrialization strategy that partly ignores ‘natural (dis)advantages’. This
heuristic device is helpful is making sense of how domestic power configurations and external
manifestations on the world market are correlated (see also the contribution by Schwartz in this
issue). We can subsequently relate this to different ideal-typical state society complexes—in
turn implying different configurations of the state capital nexus—outside the Western core,
representing different degrees to which they may potentially be expected to challenge the exist-
ing geopolitical order:
1 Proto-states (Cox, 1987, pp. 218, 230231): states where the relationship between state and
society is in constant crisis, and where no social force is able to gain widespread consent and
govern effectively.
2 Rentier states (Beblawi, 1990): states where the national economy depends mostly on the
realization of rent, based on the possession of certain natural resources (e.g. minerals) or geo-
graphic advantages (e.g. control over a strategic seaway), and where the rent accrues to a
state class (Elsenhans, 1991) or ruling clique.
3 Late-industrializing developmentalist states (Cox, 1987; Gerschenkron, 1962), where the
state plays a leading role in the promotion of industrial development, and where the state
class is committed (in any case for legitimation purposes) to pursuing development goals
for the society at large.
4 Hobbesian contender states (van der Pijl, 1998, 2006) are a subset of late-industrializing
developmentalist states where the state class develops an ambition to challenge the hege-
mony of the Lockean heartland in the power structure of the global political economy.
Two key examples (both of which receive further treatment in this issue, cf. de Graaff and
Schwartz, respectively) may serve to illustrate the rise of state-capitalist forces from the
global South making their mark on the stage of the global political economy. One is that of
the rise of state-owned national oil companies (NOCs), which have played a key role in the con-
testation over energy resources at least since the establishment of OPEC and are increasingly
becoming prominent players in global energy networks (de Graaff, 2011, and in this issue).
The other is the rise of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs), whose increasingly significant role in
the global economy was brought to the limelight in the context of the current crisis (e.g.
Farrell et al., 2008). We observe that many NOCs and SWFs originate in rentier states on the
one hand (primarily the Arab oil producers), and in contender states on the other (e.g. China).
In some cases we deal with regimes relying on oil and gas rents (SWFs play a relatively
minor role in these cases) to either resist decline from previous Hobbesian contender status
(Russia) or to convert themselves into (junior) Hobbesian contenders (Iran, Venezuela).
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Finally, we have some successful late industrializers proper, whose SWFs play (or may be
expected to play in the future) a major role (Singapore, South Korea).
What is important to emphasize is that generally speaking all—including those located in
rising contender states—of these new global state-owned players display an outward-looking,
economically expansionist (rather than protectionist) outlook, integrating themselves into trans-
national circuits of capitalist production and finance. While at the moment this ‘integration’
implies that the statist contenders play according to the rules of the game as ‘defined’ in
those transnational circuits of Western capitalism, it does not necessarily imply a wholesale
internalization of this rule set (cf. Harris, 2009). Nor does it imply that they are at the
moment actually challenging these rules. Meanwhile, it does generate a different distribution
of power within the global political economy, leading towards an increasingly multipolar
order. Although this is, as of yet, not representing a fundamental reconfiguration of the state
capital nexus in the Western core, the statist contenders have gained a seat at the table in the
global governance structures, which might very well lead to a real challenge to Western dom-
inance in the longer run. Over time the steady rise of the state-directed capital from outside
the capitalist core might thus also force a more active role of the state in the West; more
than, as we have observed, has been the case hitherto. Decisive will be to see whether these
countries develop into autonomous centers of capital accumulation, with surplus being
reinvested and serving to strengthen the statesociety complexes in questions, or whether ulti-
mately the accumulation of capital in these emerging economies is successfully integrated into,
and subordinated to, the hierarchically structured global circuits of capital, with ‘Wall Street’ at
the apex siphoning off a major part of the surpluses produced locally. When looked at in this
way, it may well be that in the final analysis the state in peripheral formations including most
would-be contender states ultimately serves as an instrument for continued and intensified
accumulation by dispossession (Harvey, 2003). As van der Pijl argues in his contribution to
this issue, the state classes in contender states may very well only be able to successfully insulate
themselves against the co-opting and submissive forces of Western capital to the extent that they
are able to successfully undertake and continue a social revolution internally. Most emerging
countries do not appear to have these characteristics.
In this article we have examined to what extent and how the current global crisis of Western
capitalism has reconfigured the state capital nexus both within the Western ‘heartland’ and
in the rival centres of accumulation outside of the former capitalist ‘core’; in particular some
of the major powers from the global South. We have argued that this reconfiguration is charac-
terized by the contradictory manifestation of a ‘return of the state’ on the one hand, and a con-
tinued deepening of the process of capitalist transnationalization and globalization on the other.
Departing from the fundamental interrelatedness of state and capital we have proposed a concep-
tualization of the statecapital nexus that identifies four different roles of the state within
(global) capital accumulation processes and that allows for analysis of the changing dynamic
of the state capital nexus.
We have concluded that with respect to a rearticulation of the statecapital nexus in the West,
the response to the financial crisis and more generally the crisis of the neoliberal growth model
has not been a turn to some form of ‘state capitalism’ nor a fundamental shift towards what we
have identified as market direction. Rather it has implied an intensification of the first market-
creating and maintaining role of the state as well as re-enforcing the (fourth) dimension of
482 B. van Apeldoorn et al.
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external representation, with a deepening of global commodification as a consequence. This
rearticulation has been manifested by major states’ power plays—both the US asserting its
power vis-a
-vis the rest of the world, and core Northern European states vis-a
-vis their ‘Southern
periphery’—and has been underpinned by coercive means ranging from the imposition of
sweeping austerity and retrenchment measures to military intimidation and war.
Our general observation with respect to the new statist capitalists is that whereas earlier the
‘statist’ catch-up with the West involved a mercantilist and protectionist strategy in which the
country’s own industries were shielded from global competition, the statist capitalists of
today have opened up to the world economy, and are seeking to achieve a prominent place
within it, by and large playing along with the (neo-)liberal rules of the game. At the same
time, however, we should not make the mistake that what Harris (2009) has called the ‘statist
globalizers’ are—or with time will become—just like the Western transnational capitalist
elites. For now, and for the foreseeable future, the new catch-up strategy is only (neo-)liberal
in its outer form, at its core it is still more about state sovereignty than about the sovereignty
of capital. In sum, we argue that although the contradictions of capital accumulation in the
twenty-first century take on a very different form and shape in the world outside the so-called
Lockean heartland, it is still an open question whether in the final instance the rise of rival
centers of accumulation constitutes a challenge to the foundations of the neoliberal global order.
The jury is still out on the extent to which a more fundamental reformulation of the state
capital nexus will be generated by the multilayered crisis that global capitalism is facing.
What we have shown is that so far a reconfiguration of state power within capital accumu-
lation—or for that matter a demise of Western dominance—does not necessarily obstruct or con-
tradict a deepening and widening process of global commodification and marketization.
We would like to thank Barry Gills for his helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper.
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Bastiaan van Apeldoorn is Reader in International Relations at VU University Amsterdam. His
research centres on the relationship between state power and social power within the European
and global political economy and within contemporary geopolitics. His most recent book is
Neoliberalism in Crisis? (co-edited, Palgrave, 2012).
The Reconfiguration of the Global State Capital Nexus 485
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de Graaff is Lecturer in International Relations at VU University Amsterdam. Her main
research interests are the geopolitics of energy, global governance of energy, corporate elite net-
works, and US foreign policy.
Henk Overbeek is Professor of International Relations at VU University Amsterdam. His
current research focuses on the impact of the global economic crisis on the project of European
integration, and on the implications of China’s rise for global order. His most recent books are
Neoliberalism in Crisis (co-edited, Palgrave, 2012) and Globalisation and European
Integration: Critical Approaches to Regional Order and International Relations (co-edited,
Routledge, 2012).
486 B. van Apeldoorn et al.
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... Instead of contrasting with agricultural financialisation, state intervention appears useful for COFCO to reign over global value chains. We can draw a parallel with the reformulation of the state-capital nexus worldwide, which according to Apeldoorn et al. (2012), has triggered "the contradictory manifestation of a 'return of the state' on the one hand, and a continued deepening of the process of capitalist transnationalization and globalization on the other" (Apeldoorn, Graaff, and Overbeek 2012, 482). Similarly, the recent expansion of financial capital in China accompanied the strengthening of the state apparatus during the Xi COFCO to take control over the "whole supply chain" without calling much public attention (Gooch and Gale 2018, 37;Oliveira 2017). ...
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This thesis examines the power struggle between the different class fractions involved in the capitalist expansion of China’s soybean downstream complex since the late 1980s. Drawing from the historical changes in the sector, I analyse through an actor-centred approach the accumulation strategies and political action of relevant soybean processors and traders. These enterprises are related to five different fractions of the bourgeoisie, which compete to secure and promote their interests by forming hegemonic alliances and influencing the state bureaucracy in their favour. Their disputes and political nexus with different bureaucratic segments put into question the idea of a stable and homogeneous state in China. Instead, I argue that state institutions are contentious spaces involving processes of wealth and capital accumulation. Moreover, I highlight China’s integration into global circuits of soybean production and consumption through the action of each capitalist class fraction at home and abroad. By highlighting class agency beyond domestic borders, I combine Marxist state analyses with international political economy, filling a gap scarcely explored in the literature. Through empirically rich research based on extensive primary data, I find that new inter-capitalist disputes since the 1990s’ soybean import liberalisation propelled the rise of a globalised fraction of capital from within the state sector. This class fraction, which I call the transnationalised state bourgeoisie, represented mainly by China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO), became prominent during the current Xi Jinping administration. COFCO has changed the sector’s economic and institutional settings by collaborating with foreign financiers, speculating over soybean price fluctuations, and operating on deregulated capital markets overseas. Nevertheless, COFCO’s rise entailed a constant power struggle with rival capitalist class fractions. In this thesis, I analyse each moment of this struggle while placing it in conversation with the literature on agrarian change and Chinese studies, including debates on rural industrialisation, state capitalism, food security, and outbound agricultural investment.
This chapter provides, by building on existing literature, an overview of the impact of the Eurozone crisis in Greece, Portugal and Spain. The first section gives a brief and critical account of the Eurozone crisis and its austerity-centred management, understood by the European radical left as both a manifestation and reinforcement of the neoliberal paradigm that all three parties staunchly oppose. Of course, given the space limits, this outline will not do justice to the high complexity of the Eurozone crisis.
Lead firms play a dominant role in the governance structure of conventional global production network (GPN) analyses but this framework is not fully applicable in sectors where (new) regulations, technologies and subsequent market changes have a disruptive effect on its governance structure. This paper proposes an analytical framework to examine how disruptive effects of industrial megatrends in forms of new regulations and technologies and the subsequent market changes could alter the competitive dynamics between lead firms and their tier-I suppliers. Although lead firms are becoming more specialized and highly efficient in specific product segments, they may not always have inter-firm control over their tier-I suppliers. GPN boundaries become more permeable when there is an external shock, such as new regulations or massive shifts in consumer demand, or the entrance of an entirely new lead firm, possibly due to a technological breakthrough or innovative use of existing technologies in a product. This external shock could have disruptive effects on the GPN, from the exit of current lead firms to the entrance of new tier-I suppliers or lead firms. Consequently, a reconstituted GPN with a newly established boundary is then produced. Applying the analytical framework to the automotive industry, it is argued that selected (and new) systems suppliers with expertise in micro-electronics are not only in a prime position to capture the value generated by the increasingly stringent regulatory environment on safety and environmental standards, but also more resilient than the incumbent automakers to three emerging megatrends: electrification, digitalization and autonomous driving. JEL: F23, L14, L20, L62
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El abordaje de las transformaciones socioterritoriales de las zonas rurales asociadas a la agroindustria y a la salmonicultura en Chile suele ofrecer valoraciones balanceadas entre impactos ambientales y socioeconómicos, con la dimensión laboral fuertemente relevada. A través del paisaje, como una categoría elaborada desde la evocación que representa el modo en que nos situamos en un determinado contexto, proponemos debatir, desde el enfoque de frontera de recursos, sobre dimensiones de disciplinamiento y exclusión social en la autodefinición de ruralidad. Aplicamos entrevistas semiestructuradas, grupos focales y cartografías participativas en las regiones de O’Higgins y Aysén, en Chile, entre agosto de 2021 y marzo de 2022. Por esa vía, accedimos a las percepciones de reconfiguración de las relaciones de poder que validan o tensionan la hegemonía industrial.
The 2008 financial crisis allowed for the rising power of China to expand deeper into more (semi-)peripheral regions: in the past decade, the role of China and Chinese SOEs has increased markedly in Eastern Europe. This has been in step with China's geopolitical and geoeconomic expansion, hallmarked by the Belt and Road Initiative; the reconstruction of the Belgrade-Budapest railway line constitutes one of its flagship projects in Europe. This paper aims to explore the complexities of the current reconfiguration of state-capital nexus through an empirical analysis of this particular development project; in doing so, we hope to contribute to the scholarly debate about the heuristic use of ‘new’ state capitalism in three specific ways. First, instead of conceptualizing the state as a territorially confined power container, we propose to scrutinize the state-capital nexus from a multi-scalar and relational perspective. Second, we claim that the study of funding, financing and governing of large-scale infrastructural investments is a fruitful analytical entry point to theorize the changing relations between ‘state’ and ‘capital’. Finally, we argue that from the perspective of contemporary shifts in global power structures, the emergence of state capitalist modalities in the Eastern peripheries of Europe should be understood as a ‘co-production’ of the geopolitical rivalry and elite capture of domains of infrastructure. In terms of methodology, in order to show how state-capital relations are produced, enacted and redrawn, the study builds on the analysis of media sources, policy documents, company networks, semi-structured interviews, and non-participant observations.
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Neomercantilism is commonly portrayed as a central mechanism of China's global agribusiness engagement. It implies reordering the international food regime by moving away from financial and trade liberalization and securing stable import supplies and price controls under state support. However, this article raises an alternative interpretation through an empirical-rich investigation of the prominence of the state-owned China Oil and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) in the soybean commodity chain. The article draws upon analyses of the Chinese state and international food regime to demonstrate that recent changes in state-capital relations during the Xi Jinping administration propelled forms of capital accumulation based on financial speculation and shareholder values. I conclude that state-driven interna-tionalization has placed Chinese agribusiness in an advantageous position within global finance rather than challenging it through agrarian neomercantilist strategies.
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This chapter relates four main forms of neoliberalism and their development to the interaction of capital’s economic logic and the territorial logic of imperialism in the world market and interstate system. An important, but by no means exclusive, role is played by US transnational capital and imperial interests. For, despite the loss of American economic hegemony and multiple challenges to its domination from the 1980s onwards, the ideational and structural capacity of US economic and political power to shape the world remains preponderant on a global scale. This is related to the active and/or reactive integration of key features of US economic paradigms into strategies pursued by many of the key economic and political forces in other economies and to the formation of transnational blocs organized under US hegemony (or, at least, dominance) that promote policies on scales ranging from the global to the local that tend to favour the interests of an imperial USA and its major economic and political allies. This reflects and tends to reproduce the continuing ‘ecological dominance’ (see below) of forms of financial innovation that have been promoted by the US federal government, related international economic apparatuses, and transnational financial capital. This ecological dominance still holds after the financial crisis that emerged in mid- 2007, rippled out through the world market in 2008 in the form of an increasingly deep recession, and is likely to become a global depression in 2009-10. In addressing these issues, this chapter comments on different forms of neoliberalism, identifies the highpoint of neoliberalism in 1985-1997, discusses the nature of economic determination, argues that the logic of US neoliberalism is ecologically dominant in the world market, and concludes with remarks on the contradictions and limits of US domination.
People around the world are confused and concerned. Is it a sign of strength or of weakness that the US has suddenly shifted from a politics of consensus to one of coercion on the world stage? What was really at stake in the war on Iraq? Was it all about oil and, if not, what else was involved? What role has a sagging economy played in pushing the US into foreign adventurism? What exactly is the relationship between US militarism abroad and domestic politics? These are the questions taken up in this compelling and original book. In this closely argued and clearly written book, David Harvey, one of the leading social theorists of his generation, builds a conceptual framework to expose the underlying forces at work behind these momentous shifts in US policies and politics. The compulsions behind the projection of US power on the world as a "new imperialism" are here, for the first time, laid bare for all to see.
Zur Entwicklung einer historisch-materialistischen Staatstheorie bedarf es der Einheit von logischem und historischem Forschungsprozeß, und lediglich der Arbeitsteilung wegen können die beiden Aspekte vorübergehend schwerpunktmäßig gesondert vorangetrieben werden. Die im folgenden dargestellte historische Konstitution des bürgerlichen Staates (1) ist also nicht mißzuverstehen als eine theoretische Erklärung des bürgerlichen Staates. Wohl aber ist sie durchaus solchen systematischen Theorieansätzen kritisch gegenübergestellt, welche den bürgerlichen Staat allein aus den Strukturen des entfalteten Kapitalverhältnisses meinen ableiten zu dürfen. Denn der bürgerliche Staat ist nicht nur jener politische Überbau, welchen die bürgerliche Gesellschaft notwendigerweise aus sich hervorbringt, sondern er bildet in vieler Hinsicht zugleich deren Voraussetzung.
The recent, devastating and ongoing economic crisis has exposed the faultlines in the dominant neoliberal economic order, opening debate for the first time in years on alternative visions that do not subscribe to a 'free' market ethic. In particular, the core contradiction at the heart of neoliberalism that states are necessary for the functioning of free markets provides us with the opportunity to think again about how we want to organise our economies and societies. The Rise and Fall of Neloberalism presents critical perspectives of neoliberal policies, questions the ideas underpinning neoliberalism, and explores diverse response to it from around the world. In bringing together the work of distinguished scholars and dedicated activists to question neoliberal hegemony, the book exposes the often fractured and multifarious manifestations of neoliberalism which will have to be challenged to bring about meaningful social change.
A cursory reading of the confidential US diplomatic cables thus far released by Wikileaks appears to confirm two notions about the nature of US power in the current world order that we also find in some of the recent literature. First, that after the end of the Cold War the US has succeeded in creating a truly global empire, which it proactively seeks to maintain through the exercise of both hard and soft power in all corners of the world (on the contemporary US empire see, e.g., Johnson 2001; Bacevich 2002; Wood 2003 and Harvey 2003). Second, that in spite of these efforts, the US finds it increasingly hard to maintain the global order it has created, to actually make other states comply and effectively carry out its agenda, and to control events and shape outcomes - a fact subsequently even more dramatically illustrated by the unexpected ‘Arab Spring’.
In 1941, Paul Sweezy (1910–2004), a founding member of the ‘monopoly capital’ school of Marxism, published an article on the power of US investment banks in light of the 1929 stock market crash and ensuing depression. His assessment of their relative position and future prospects within the corporate hierarchy was bleak. Although the major investment banks had survived the turbulent 1930s, Sweezy argued that they failed to reassert the dominance they secured during the initial transition from competitive to monopoly capitalism around the turn of the twentieth century (see Veblen 1923). Firms that once embraced the guidance of investment bankers had matured into giants capable of expanding their operations through internal financing. As a result, most of the securities market activity that took place involved routine refunding operations that required little investment bank expertise, while those few securities that were newly issued were privately placed with increasingly powerful institutional investors.