Marx and East Asian Globalization


My abstract has been accepted for a special issue of the International Journal ( with the first draft due in May.


Although Marx’s concept of the Asiatic Mode of Production is of very limited value in understanding the rapid industrialization of East and Southeast Asia, his analysis of the processes of globalization and the dissolution of all bonds other than those constituted by money are of great use. Capital, the Communist Manifesto and the various political writings contain passages that describe the imperialism of capitalist production in overseas lands and the processes this sets in motion. The history of modern East and Southeast Asia is replete with examples of the arrival of capitalist investment an introduction of accumulation by alienation  and dispossession, with the transformation of societies and social relations as a result. From Japan and the Newly Industrializing Economies of the 1950s and 60s to China, Cambodia and Vietnam today, capitalist investment has unleashed the creative destruction of capitalism and brought about crises and resolutions with the pre-existing political settlements and the elites who protect them. Further, subsequent writers working in the Marxist tradition, from Gramsci to Harvey, have extended the original analysis to provide greater understanding of areas such as the relationships between states in the region to the spatial allocation of particular activities and the management of otherwise unstable situations. This paper first outlines Marx’s work in the area of the globalization of capitalist investment and production, then indicates the ways it has been extended in various important areas, before seeking to show the relevance of these analyses to modern East and Southeast Asian history.

(So, starting a new project before finishing all existing ones – scratch that New Year’s Resolution then.)


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