New series: Left politics in an international economy

By Jamie

14 December 2012

Hot on the heels of our seminars on The Politics of Housing and The Power Elite, we're pleased to publish a new series examining the implications of international economic integration for left-wing politics. 

'For most countries', write Israeli political economists Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler, global integration (trade, investment and ownership, conflict and war) 'defines the "boundaries of the possible," and therefore should not only be recognised, but made the basis for' analysing states' political and economic behaviour. 

This series is born of frustration that much political and economic commentary takes places at the wrong level of analysis, restricted to either the 'national' or the 'international' level without sufficient appreciation of how the two interact. When the international economy is integrated into political analysis, it is often understood in simplistic or ill-defined terms: for instance, as an amorphous, vaguely threatening 'market' whose 'will' must be appeased by increasingly helpless 'states'.

As Leo Panitch argues in one of the pieces we will be publishing, this has left us in a fog of analytical confusion. It renders us vulnerable to, on the one hand, attempts by political actors to present potentially unpopular redistributive policies as technical measures forced upon them by the 'bond markets' or 'international economic pressures'; and on the other, overly voluntaristic expectations of what national political leaders or parties may do in the absence of broader shifts in the balance of international political-economic power. 

This series hopes to do a small amount to remedy this, by examining the forces and actors which comprise the 'international economy'—for instance, credit rating agencies—and by explaining important domestic and international developments with an emphasis on the role of international-domestic political and economic interaction. 

We launch today with an article by Kees van der Pijl on the potentially grave political implications for European states of the restructuring of the bank crisis into a crisis of sovereign debt.

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