The dynamics of the economic and political transformations of the second half of the twentieth century, especially since the 1970s, deepened interdependence among countries, raised the productive restructuring movement, and intensified both international trade and finance. This new dynamics attracted the attention of many scholars of International Political Economy (IPE) and started a new academic debate. Generally, those authors characterized the international conjuncture either by the existence of an American hegemony or by the multipolar character of the present order. Nevertheless, almost none of them questioned the notions behind the so-called victory of liberalism and the apparent decreasing role of the national states. In this sense, this paper reviews those main IPE theories concerned about the 1970s' crisis and presents the theory of Global Power, drafted by José Luis Fiori. Thus, it aims at demonstrating the potential of this theory to renew the current IPE discussions from a critical perspective.
In this paper, we refer to “Global Power” and “Capitalist Interstate System” theory interchangeably.
“A national economy is a political space, transformed by the state as a result of the necessities and innovations of economic life, into a coherent, unified economic space whose combined activities may tend in the same direction. Only England managed this exploit at an early date. In reference to England the term revolution recurs: agricultural, political, financial, and industrial revolutions” (Braudel 1977, 99).
According to Cox (1981), theories can be divided into problem-solving theory and critical theory. The first is stated as functional theory with order and interest in specific reforms that tend to improve the functioning of the current mechanisms and power structures. The second criticism is dedicated to the understanding of one's existing order in order to investigate their origin, structure, and functioning. Its character of historical and structural analysis asks what is considered natural for problem-solving theory. Therefore, critical theory is presented as a possible transformation of the order itself.
The HST appears when Kindleberger (1973), in studying the 1929 crisis, realizes that this period was marked by a transition of power between Great Britain and the United States. The 1929 crisis was therefore a demonstration of the absence of a nation that was capable of sustaining a liberal international system. Great Britain already showed itself weakened, unable to act during the crisis, and the United States showed little disposition to act as the last resort lender. The so-called Pax Britannica lasted since the period after the Napoleonic wars until World War I. The American hegemony would come to emerge with the end of World War II, consolidating itself with the Bretton Woods agreements. The events of the 1970s however would put this position into a crisis. Kindleberger therefore asks if this 1970s' crisis would not be a crisis that would show the collapse of American power and fears that an adverse economic scenario like the one from 1929 would happen again.
Wallerstein published two seminal works: The Rise and Future Demise of the World Capitalist System: Concepts for Comparative Analysis is the first volume of the book The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century.
In this sense, Furtado subscribes to the common and widespread idea in economic thought, originated in Adam Smith, that the initial production of surplus is essentially an economic phenomenon, created by the enlargement of the market, the increased division of labor, and the connected increase in productivity. Later in this chapter, we will see that the critique to this point is one of the bases of political economy of the CIS perspective.
This concept is inspired by the self-protective reactions in Karl Polanyi's (2007) work.