State theorists have usually attempted to theorize the state but this is a misleading focus that risks treating the state as a simple instrument or machine, a reified apparatus that is primarily a source of constraint on political action, or a more or less rational subject that exercises power. Such positions have been criticized from many alternative theoretical positions as well as proven unhelpful in empirical analyses.
This contribution adopts a dual state- and regulation-theoretical approach to analyze the European Union as an emerging political system and its role in capital accumulation. It does so in three respects. First, in state-theoretical terms, I reject the two main rival descriptions of the EU in the 1980s and 1990s as a supranational state or a site of interstate struggles and propose a third interpretation.
My contribution to this celebration of Limits to Capital (hereafter Limits or LC) approaches it as a magisterial work that is also a ‘classic’ text. Even though Harvey recently described it, with justified regret, as the least discussed and used of his books (2000), it is a work of massive theoretical ambition and solid accomplishment. As Harvey remarks elsewhere, Limits ‘seeks to integrate the financial (temporal) and geographical (call it global and spatial) aspects to accumulation within the framework of Marx’s overall argument.
A case is made for ‘cultural political economy’ (CPE) by exploring the constitutive role of semiosis in economic and political activities, economic and political institutions, and social order more generally. CPE is a post-disciplinary approach that adopts the ‘cultural turn’ in economic and political inquiry without neglecting the articulation of semiosis with the interconnected materialities of economics and politics within wider social formations.
Two recent major studies by Manuel Castells and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri have addressed the future of the capitalist economy, the modern state, and social struggles in the light of new information and communication technologies, new paradigms of production, and the dynamic of globalization.
Q. Why did you become a Marxist and why do you remain a Marxist? Moreover, how can you justify your version of Marxism as Marxism?
A. This is a very interesting question. I never reflected on this issue and then made the decision from one day to the next. It was not like a religious conversion. You do not wake up one day and say “Oh my God, I’m a Marxist” and then elaborate the reasons.
This paper discusses the recurrence and the recurrent limitations of liberalism as a general discourse, strategy, and regime. It then establishes a continuum of neoliberalism ranging from a project for radical system transformation from state socialism to market capitalism, through a basic regime shift within capitalism, to more limited policy adjustments intended to maintain another type of accumulation regime and its mode of regulation.
This article re-interprets and develops Polanyi’s substantive institutionalist analysis of capitalist market economies and the market society in the light of two more recent approaches to the same issues. These are the Parisian ‘regulation school’ on contemporary capitalism and systems-theoretical accounts of the modern economy. All three regard the capitalist economy (or, for autopoietic systems theory, the market economy) as an operationally autonomous system that is nonetheless socially embedded and needful of complex forms of social regulation.