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Marxist Theory and International Conflict and Security Why include Marxist theory as a valid theory of international security when it has proved a failure?

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Presentation on theme: "Marxist Theory and International Conflict and Security Why include Marxist theory as a valid theory of international security when it has proved a failure?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Marxist Theory and International Conflict and Security Why include Marxist theory as a valid theory of international security when it has proved a failure? –Soviet Union, a Marxist model states, organized as a centralized political and economic system, self- destructed –The Chinese Communist state abandoned the Maoist model of Marxist central political and economic control, in favor of a market economic system, linked to global markets around the globe, and Chinese membership in the World Trade Organization.

2 Two Forces Underlying Marxist Theory Qualify Marxism as a Theory of International Security First, the Marxist prediction that capitalism and capitalist markets will distribute wealth and income unequally will be a constant source of conflict Second, Marxism, viewed as a political ideology, has mobilized the populations around the globe under European imperial rule to revolt and create their own states –Marxism as an ideology is still strong, notably once again justifying the centralization of political and economic power: e.g. Venezuela and Cuba and to a lesser extent in Bolivia, Ecuador –Many critics of globalization also rely on Marxist ideology to justify their opposition to global capitalistic markets and corporate power

3 What Are Key Concepts of Marxism As a Theory of International Conflict and Security? Realists and Liberal Institutionalists identify the state as the principal actor in international relations and global politics Liberal theorists identify the individual as the principal actor and source of political and economic legitimacy of state and markets systems But Marxism identifies the creation of classes as the principal actor in international relations

4 How Does Marxism Arrive at Class Struggle as the Central Actors in International Relations? 1) Marx and Marxists state that humans are fundamentally material entities –Frederick Engels: “Mankind must first off eat, drink, have shelter and clothing before it can pursue politics, science, and religion” 2) The modes of production to meet human material needs creates a power structure that rules humans who depend on this production system –Under feudalism (European and Japanese), agriculture was the dominant mode of production of wealth Those who owned land controlled the workers and serfs that were the labor for agriculture which they exploited They also controlled political authorities and military forces to impose their rule on others

5 The Industrial Revolution and Capitalist Destroys Feudalism 3) The Industrial Revolution and global capital markets that facilitate mass production and economies of scale create a capitalist class, opposed to feudal land owners –Capitalists and corporations which own and control the means of industrial production capture most of the wealth of the capitalist system –Workers are exploited by being paid low or subsistence wages –Traditional home industries, like Indian cotton manufacture, are destroyed –The state and its military and police forces are controlled by capitalists and corporations –Thus, the struggle between a capitalist class and a worker or proletariat class is what is “real” about international politics, not the state (realists) or individuals (liberals)

6 Marxism and the Cold War Marxism as ideology helps explain the Russian and Chinese revolutions –A socialist state and economy claimed to end the alleged injustices (unequal power and wealth to capitalists) and to be a superior system for the production and equitable distribution of wealth –The state seized the private land and destroyed the landowner class –Collective farms were were created as the foundation of a socialist state and society

7 Marxism and the End of Europe’s Empires Marxist doctrine of exploitation by the West and capitalism rationalized the revolt of the developing world The Soviet Union and Communist China aligned with these movements for self- determination in their struggle with the West and, especially, with the United States

8 Marxism and the Cold War The socialist model that combined political and economic power in the state proved fatal to the Soviet Union China abandoned the Maoist socialist state both on political and economic grounds –The cultural revolution was directed at the elites of the Communist party –The state controlled economic system produced famine and massive economic dislocation and losses

9 Marxism and Identity Politics Marxism is not able to explain –Why the peoples of the developing world created their own states instead of joining a global socialist order –Why the Soviet Union was destroyed by The demand of its East European satellites for national self- determination The demand of Russian elites to abandon a socialist system that impoverished the Soviet Union The demand of the peoples of the Soviet Republics for self- determination and their own state

10 Can Marxism Still Explain Conflict? The unequal distribution of wealth through globalization and global markets within and between states remains a flaw within the global system and a source of conflict The ideology of Marxism, based on the unequal distribution of economic wealth and political power as the product of capitalism, has created a backlash against global markets and the power of the Western liberal market democracies Marxist theory still has some explanatory power along these two dimensions of inequality and ideology.


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