Theoretical research summaries

States and Stakes: Relational Theory and the Politics of Class Struggle

How we conceive of the state has profound effects on how we understand political strategy. In this essay, written in response to Michael A. McCarthy's recent intervention, Zachary Levenson and Teresa Kalisz argue that only by seeing the state as truly relational can we avoid the pitfall of placing undue emphasis on organizing within the state, rather than the vital work of base building.

By |2019-11-20T13:09:26-05:00Nov 20, 2019|

Marx and the Dutch East India Company

Marx's examination of Dutch colonial violence in Indonesia highlight's important aspects of his approach to original accumulation that are easily lost when viewing the chapter, "the so-called original accumulation," through the lens of English exceptionalism, as many Marxists are prone to do.

By |2019-11-05T12:31:37-05:00Nov 5, 2019|

The New Memphis

This Life is a profound tour of our inner life and purpose that deftly weaves in religion and political economy, with an eye always to the future. But it fails to appreciate the profound worth of institutional changes that might reallocate powers and capacities to exploited people here and now for its chief goal, spiritual freedom.

By |2019-08-07T12:31:02-04:00Aug 7, 2019|

The Ruling Class Does Rule

Social scientists should assuredly keep the structural constraints of capitalism in mind when developing state theory in the 21st century. However, we should not lose site of the fact that individuals also make history, and that a single-minded focus on the structural constraints of capitalism may only lead to a functionalist interpretation of the state, alongside a cynical approach to politics.

By |2019-07-17T11:52:11-04:00Jul 17, 2019|

It’s Not Just Profitability: A Response to Michael Roberts

Marxism has a future only if its practitioners confront unexpected developments with a determination to find their roots using the methodology and concepts of Marxism, not by trying to show that the evidence is wrong out of a misplaced fear that any unexpected development threatens to undermine Marxism.

By |2019-06-21T11:19:09-04:00Jun 21, 2019|

The class struggle over democracy

To understand democracy — to defend it and to deepen it — we should examine its long history rather than obsess about recent headwinds. In a recent article published in the American Journal of Sociology, I attempt to do just that. My research suggests that democratic progress over the last 150 years is the fruit of the changing character of class struggle over the state. Democracy has its origins in the capacity of the poor to disrupt the routines of the rich.

By |2019-05-31T09:54:44-04:00May 28, 2019|