School of Politics and International Relations
University of Kent
As regards your paper (‘The Origins of International Relations’.) presented recently at Kent, there are several issues that come to my mind.
1) Political multiplicity may be a problem for classical social theory, but not, it seems to me, for Marxist social theory. For Marxism, the rise of industrial capitalism betokens a break in human history with which only the agricultural revolution is genuinely comparable in terms of its historic significance. More to the point, on the scale of the whole of human history, capitalism is the first genuinely universal social formation – free trade is the cannon that batters down all Chinese walls. From this viewpoint, political multiplicity is a phenomenon internal to capitalism, not a historic legacy – which would surely make it a fetter on genuine capitalist development. Another way to formulate this question is, why didn’t capitalism develop as a single universal empire or world state rather than as a set of competing states across the 16-17C? It seems to me that the existence of political multiplicity has to be established logically in relation to the internal development of capitalist social relations, and the historical mediations, vestigial remnants of prior social formations, etc., worked out subsequently.