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Marxism and Critical Theory

Theories of IR Seminar

Rosie Walters

on 24 January 2014

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Transcript of Marxism and Critical Theory

Tareq Sharawi and Rosie Walters Marxism and Critical Theory Critical Theory > Intellectual beginnings

> What is the purpose of theory?

"humans may be collectively capable of recreating their world, their work, and themselves in new and better ways, but only if we think critically about, and act practically to change, those historically peculiar social relations which encourage us to think and act as socially disempowered, narrowly self-interested individuals
(Rupert, 2010: 159-160) Marxism: How is it different? - Going deeper than states or individual units..(?)

- Social structure & Understanding the process within the global CAPITALIST system.

- Shares zero-sum game with realism.. Life After Marxism? > Marxism paved the way for other critical theories, including postcolonial theory and feminist theory

> Analysing the social relations that created oppressive power structures

Capitalism: class is its structure, production its consequence, capital its congealed form, and control its issue.

Patriarchy: Heterosexuality is its structure,
gender and the family its congealed forms,
sex roles its qualities generalized to social
persona, reproduction its consequence, and
control its issue (Mackinnon, 1982: 515-6). Conclusions "Marxism is inherently both practical and theoretical critique. Division of labour between theory and practice is inimical to Marxism. However, it is an historical fact that such a split took place" (Andy Blunden on marxists.org).

Critical theory is indebted to Marxism, however some critical theorists have now moved on to critique Marxism as being too limited. > Critical Theory
> Classical Marxism and IR
> New Marxism
> The "Social" Context
> Marxism's Limitations Epistemology > History, psychoanalysis, philosophy, discourse analysis: "humans are historical beings, simultaneously the producers and the products of historical processes" (Rupert, 2010: 160)

> Constantly changing methodologies

> No such thing as "objective knowledge"

> Criticised as not being scientific enough: "This relative strength of problem-solving theory, however, rests upon a false premise, since the social and political order is not fixed but (at least in a long-range perspective) is changing (Cox, 1986: 208) Is Critical Theory Practical? > Some marxist theorists have been accused of being too theoretical

> Critical theory is not predictive, only explanatory

> However, explanation opens up the possibility of alternative worlds Contribution to IR - Capitalism's expanding nature.
- Lenin's: Imperialism, the highest stage of Capitalism.. International perspective?
- World systems theory.

While the first generation of Marxist theorists and activists tended to focus on the economy and politics, later generations of Western Marxists appeared in Europe after the Russian revolution and developed Marxian theories of culture, the state, social institutions, psychology, and other thematics not systematically engaged by the first generation of Marxism. (Kellner, 2005) The "social" perspective Social structure is driven by economics. Means and relations of production.

Production is the base of social change.

CLASS Social Constructivism

The role of identity in the construction of interests and action.

Social norms.

AGENCY " The bourgeois mind thus endorses individualism, the holding of private property, market relations, acquisitiveness, competition and profit, which are incorporated as values in everything from law, to education, to religion, to literature.."
- (Cocks, 1980: 5) The "social" perspective Marx and Engels began a critique of ideology, attempting to show how ruling ideas reproduce dominant societal interests and relations serving to naturalize, idealize, and legitimate the existing society and its institutions and values. In a competitive and atomistic capitalist society, it appears natural to assert that human beings are primarily self-interested and competitive, just as in a communist society it is natural to assert that people are cooperative by nature. (Kellner, 2005) Critiques of Marxism > "Patriarchy, the institutionalized domination of women by men, has historically been invisible to traditional Marxists" (Ehrlich, 1981: 110).

> Socially productive work in the home often ignored

> Mostly deals with women's oppression in relation to capitalism, not men

> Edward Said's work on Orientalism criticises Marx: "They cannot represent themselves, they must be represented" (Habib, 2005: 41 - 42). Is Feminist Marxism Critical? > "Although Marxism's powerful explanation of the workings of capital is undeniable, even there it excludes much of the reality of women's lives. To the extent that Marxist feminists are confined within its assumptions, then, they will inevitably have difficulty designing programs of action that will overcome those aspects of patriarchy that are not specifically linked to capitalism" (Ehrlich, 1981: 129).

> Similarly, would postcolonial Marxism be limited as a critical theory because of its focus on economic issues? "Tunisia Tourism Campaign
Targets Upmarket Audience" References Buzan, Barry and Richard Little (2001), ‘Why International Relations has Failed as an Intellectual Project and
What to do About it’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 30(1), 19 - 39
Cocks, Peter (1980), ‘Towards a Marxist theory of European integration’, International Organization, 34(1), 1 - 40
Cox, Robert W. (1983), ‘Gramsci, hegemony and international relations: An essay in method,’ Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 12(2), 162 - 175
Cox, Robert W. (1986), ‘Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory’, in Robert Keohane, Neorealism and Its Critics, NY: Columbia University Press, 204 - 255
Ehrlich, Carol (1981), ‘The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Can it be Saved’, in Lydia Sargent (ed.), Women & Revolution: A Discussion of the Unhappy Marriage of Marxism & Feminism, Montreal: Back Rose Books, 109 - 133
Habib, Irfan (2005), ‘In Defence of Orientalism: Critical Notes on Edward Said’, Social Scientist, 33(1/2), 40 - 46
Kellner, Douglas (2005), Western Marxism, Oxford: Oxford University Press
Keohane, Robert (1989), ‘International Relations Theory: Contributions of a Feminist Standpoint’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 18(2), 245 - 254
Linklater, Andrew (1986), ‘Realism, Marxism and critical international theory,’ Review of International Studies, 12(4), 301 – 312
Lukacs, Georg (1972), History and Class Consciousness, Berlin and Neuwied: Hermann Luchterhand Verlag Gm bH
MacKinnon, Catherine A. (1982), ‘Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: An Agenda for Theory’, Signs, 7(3), 515 - 544
Maclean, John (1988), ‘Marxism and international relations: A strange case of mutual neglect,’ Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 17(2), 295 - 319
McLellan, David (2003), ‘Western Marxism’, in Terrence Ball and Richard Bellamy (eds.), The Cambridge History of Twentieth Century Political Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 282 - 298
Rupert, Mark (2010), 'Marxism and Critical Theory' in Dunne, Tim, Milja Kurki and Steve Smith, eds., International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 157 – 176
Tickner, Ann J. (1997), ‘You Just don’t Understand: Troubled Engagements between Feminists and IR
Theorists’, International Studies Quarterly, 41(4), 611 - 632
Weber, Cynthia (1994), ‘Good girls, little girls and bad girls: male paranoia in Robert Keohane’s
critique of feminist International Relations’, Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 23(2),
337 - 349 Discussion > To what extent do you see capitalism as capable of social and cultural transformation?

> "Capitalism is seen as one united enemy, what we should think of is this: how united is global capitalism?" - Ghassib, 2007 [own translation]

> "feminists must understand that methodologies relevant to the investigations of their preferred issues are not normally part of a graduate curriculum in IR in the United States; therefore, they appear strange, unfamiliar, and often irrelevant to those so trained" (Tickner, 1997: 630). Is the
same true in the UK? http://www.alaintruong.com/archives/2012/03/27/23864317.html
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