Andreas Bieler, Werner Bonefeld, Peter Burnham and Adam David Morton: Global Restructuring, State, Capital and Labour: Contesting Neo-Gramscian Perspectives.

Author:Robinson, William I.
Position:Book review

Andreas Bieler, Werner Bonefeld, Peter Burnham and Adam David Morton

Global Restructuring, State, Capital and Labour: Contesting Neo-Gramscian Perspectives

Palgrave, 2006, 237 pp.

ISBN: 979140399231 (bbk) 49 [pounds sterling]

Explaining the restructuring of world capitalism in recent decades--what many now refer to as globalisation--is surely the paramount analytical and theoretical challenge for scholars and activists who engage with the global system. Some of the most innovative work on capitalist restructuring from within the sub-disciplines of international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE) has come from two critical Marxist approaches, neo-Gramscianism and Open Marxism. These two approaches share a historical-materialist method and a critical standpoint, yet the), have been in tension with one another over the utility, interpretation and application of key Marxist and critical categories in understanding contemporary capitalism. This volume brings together a total of twelve contributions--from Andreas Bieler and Adam Morton, representing the neo-Gramscians, and from Peter Burnham and Werner Bonefeld, representing the Open Marxists--as an exchange between the two approaches on their respective interpretations of global restructuring processes, with an explicit focus on the centrality of the state, capital and labour to these processes.

The book is organised into three sections. The first introduces the key concepts and categories of analysis of the two perspectives. The neo-Gramscian approach congealed in the 1990s following seminal contributions in the previous decade by its doyen, Robert W. Cox. It applies Gramscian categories and concepts--amongst them hegemony, the historical bloc, passive revolution and state--civil-society configurations--to world order and global restructuring, and emphasises the transnational character of late-twentieth and early twenty-first century world capitalism. The Open Marxists, largely contemporaneous with the neo-Gramscians, emphasise the centrality of the capital relation--especially its internally contradictory nature--class struggle as open ended, and the inherent instability and crisis-prone nature of capitalism. Both approaches prioritise the social relations of production, ontologically as the core of capitalism and methodologically as the starting point of analysis. And for both, the state and the market are two different forms of these same social relations of production.

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