Monday, 6 November 2000

A Note on the Origins of IPE

The Marginalist Revolution which occurred in the early twentieth century, whilst catalysing that century’s great philosophical Jafar-guffaw Neoclassical Economics, was nonetheless a kind of negative revolutionary ideology in the sense of abandoning to Marxist thought all those interesting objects which had previously been the remit of political economy. Marxism became the only decent framework in which to think (what had become) the economic and the political together.

International Political Economy (IPE) formed in the 1960s to answer the by-then insulting proliferation of phenomena exceeding the explanatory powers of Economics and of International Relations (uh . . . WTO? Hello?).

Reading this back through a woman blown from green glass, Economics and International Relations didn’t fuck for a set time, to inject back the romance. In composing itself out of the categories of those two fields, with only the cud critique that they had missed each other sooo much, IPE recuperated the Marginalist Revolution and de-clogged the conduits between market fundamentalist ideas and objects outside the Narnian crystal of Neoclassical Economics.

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The Marxist’s high-level beef with IPE is this: though built partly on a Marxian critique of any hypostatisation / naturalisation of particular economic forms of life, and partly on a Marxian sense of base-superstructure relations, IPE puts a category of “political agency” where a would put Marxist “ideology.” Marxist notions of ideology are of course perfidiously hosted within IPE, supplying but one lekking analysis of political agency. See note 1. See note 2.

Note 1. I’m a moraliser not a Marxist – IPE should snub all descriptive accounts of political agency, including the correct Marxist one, in favour of a normative, social justice-based account of how agency should be exercised. See note 3.

Note 2. IPE institutionalises what plenty of economists, political theorists and others had been doing anyway, and sharpens the recuperative character of such activity. Does the potentially-revolutionary frequently come to consciousness for the first time in its recuperation?

Note 3. All right I am a Marxist. See note 4.

Note 4. Do critiques of ideologies contain those ideology? If so, are the seals secure?

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