The Rise of the Capital-state and Neo-Nationalism

A New Polanyian Moment


What explains the rise of populist nationalism in the contemporary phase of globalized development? Drawing on Karl Polanyi’s study of the great transformation, The Rise of the Capital-state and Neo-nationalism argues that populist nationalism is a societal reaction to the pro-market structural changes in the political economies of nation-states – conceptualized as the capital-state transformation. Oleksandr Svitych shows that there is an inextricable link between free market reforms, declining state legitimacy, and identity-based mobilization. Examining four case studies (Australia, France, Hungary, and South Korea) through a mixed method approach, the book finds that discontented voters gravitate toward populist neo-national political forces and embrace identity-based solutions – often in exclusivist and scapegoating forms – to harness their anxieties and insecurities triggered by the capital-state restructuring. Populist nationalism of both the left and the right has emerged to compensate for the real and perceived inability of the state to shield citizens from the corrosive effects of market fundamentalism. The Rise of the Capital-state and Neo-nationalism contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of the interrelated nature of state, capital, and identity politicization through a broader social theoretical perspective.

This work was supported by European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 822682: "Populist rebellion against modernity in 21st-century Eastern Europe: neo-traditionalism and neo-feudalism – POPREBEL".

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Oleksandr Svitych is Assistant Professor at O.P. Jindal Global University, School of International Affairs. His overarching research orientation is critical political economy with a global perspective.
“Oleksandr Svitych’s The Rise of the Capital State and Neo-nationalism is an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of the current phenomena of populism and nationalism spreading across the globe. Instead of limiting his analysis to simple economic or cultural explanations, the author deftly combines both in a synthetic interpretation of the present conjuncture indebted to the insights of Karl Polanyi's The Great Transformation. Svitych distinguishes between right-wing neoliberalism, the response on the Right from authoritarian and neo-nationalist populists who favor some protection from market fundamentalism, and the more cosmopolitan, democratic, and egalitarian populism on the Left. His research and results illuminate the pathologies and possibilities in the current drift toward illiberal democracy and greater authoritarianism. This book is essential reading for understanding the dangers presented by demagogues and opportunists ready to exploit the genuine discontents of those left behind by capitalist globalization and the degradation of the welfare state.”
——Ronald Grigor Suny, William H. Sewell, Jr. Distinguished University Professor of History, Professor of Political Science, University of Michigan | Emeritus Professor of Political Science and History, The University of Chicago

“The rise of ‘populist’ political movements is a striking feature of modern politics. This book challenges simple interpretations of populism by digging deeper into the underlying political economic influences. It astutely blends political economic theory, statistical analysis, and country-specific case studies. It recasts conventional understandings of neoliberalism by considering the features of the ‘capital-state’ that have led people to seek alternatives in neo-nationalist movements. It extends Polanyi’s theory of the ‘double movement’ to show how cultural considerations have shaped these responses in different countries. Systematic, cogent and clearly written, this book has all the hallmarks of first-class social science. It deserves to be widely read by academics, students and citizens concerned with the future of democracy.”
——Frank Stilwell, Professor Emeritus of Political Economy, University of Sydney

“Why have nationalist movements, of reactionary and leftist stripes, thrived in our era of market-fundamentalist globalisation? And why have they gained traction in some countries but not others? Drawing on Polanyian theory, case study research and comparative statistical analysis, Oleksandr Svitych offers answers in this thought-provoking book.
——Gareth Dale, Reader in Political Economy, Brunel University

“Populism, nationalism, and radicalism have been on the rise across the world. Svitych's book shows that the rise of all three are intimately connected to each other and that their combination in the hands of skillful political entrepreneurs amounts to a novel political project, neo-nationalism. In particular, Svitych shows how politicians exploit the state's retreat from regulating the market and the accompanying re-embedding of social life in a market society. The more society revolves around the market, the more opportunities for political entrepreneurs to combine populist, nationalist, and radical rhetorics to appeal to the legitimate grievances of ordinary citizens. By combining historical case-studies with large-n analysis and by synthesizing political science with Polanyian political economy, Svitych's book provides a valuable and timely explanation of how neo-nationalist politics gained ground around the world.
——Kurtulus Gemici, One Hundred Talent Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, Zhejiang University

List of Figures and Tables

1Introduction A New Polanyian Moment
 1 The Argument

 2 Book Outline

2Bringing the Nation Back In
 1 What’s New in Neo-nationalism?

 2 Enter Populism and Radicalism

 3 Competing Neo-nationalisms

 4 Toward a Polanyian Explanation

3The Rise of the Capital-State
 1 A New Polanyian Moment

 2 Theorizing State Transformation under Globalization

 3 The Rise of the Capital-State

 4 Capital-State Index

 5 The Greatest Transformation

4Capital-State and Neo-nationalism Global Trends
 1 Neo-nationalism as a Protective Reaction

 2 Regression Analysis
 2.1 Aggregate Analysis

 2.2 Panel Data Analysis

 3 Interactive Models

 4 Conclusion

5The Post-socialist Capital-State Movement for a Better Hungary
 1 The Post-socialist Capital State

 2 Perceptions of the Transformation
 2.1 Nostalgic

 2.2 Deprived

 2.3 Status-Frustrated

 3 Jobbik: Appeal and Politicization

 4 Institutional Change, Social Demand, and Political Supply

6The Liberal Capital-State One Nation Party
 1 Perceptions of the Transformation

 2 One Nation Party: Closed Supply

7The Post-dirigiste Capital-State National Front
 1 The Post-dirigiste Capital-State

 2 Perceptions of the Transformation

 3 National Front: Appeal and Politicization

8The Developmental Capital-State Korean Progressivism
 1 Institutional Change and Continuity

 2 Progressivism in Lieu of Neo-nationalism

9Conclusion The Pandemic and Beyond
 1 The Neo-nationalist Blowback against the Capital-State

 2 Contributions and Implications

 3 The covid Capital-State and Neo-nationalism





For students of populism, political economy, and political sociology, as well as for policy-makers, activists, and all citizens seeking a just socio-economic order.
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