Knafo and Teschke’s 2020 article, ‘Political Marxism and the Rules of Reproduction of Capitalism: A Historicist Critique’, is an important contribution to the debate between structuralist and historicist interpretations of Marxism. As such, it presents important implications for how Marxism is presented in broader academic debates. My aim is to highlight the contribution of its radical historicism and its methodological emphasis on agency for questioning Eurocentric macro-narratives, through an engagement with the ways in which Marxism (and the problem of Eurocentric structuralism) is presented in Post- and Decolonial traditions. I end by drawing briefly upon examples from my previous work on Brazilian state-formation and development.
This article responds to Samuel Knafo and Benno Teschke’s recent critique of Political Marxism and their proposal for an alternative, ‘radical agency-centred’ historicism. While sympathetic to the critiques raised by the authors, I am less convinced by the conclusions they reach. Rather than abandon Political Marxism altogether, I argue that there remains much of value in the tradition. Through an analysis of the differential path of capitalist development in settler-colonial Canada, I suggest that bringing the methodological insights of Uneven and Combined Development to bear on the theoretical material of Political Marxism can alleviate the problems identified by the authors.
According to Marx’s unfinished critique of political economy, capitalist relations of production rely on what Marx refers to in Capital as ‘the mute compulsion of economic relations’. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that this constitutes a distinct form of economic power which cannot be reduced to either ideology or violence, and to provide the conceptual groundwork for a systematic theory of capital’s mute compulsion.
Historical research is always in danger of being made use of for explaining and illustrating instead of testing one’s theoretical conceptions. Since Marxist historical research has certainly not been exempt from this temptation, one has to start any debate about Marxist historiography with the demand to accord empirical research the chance to shake even the cornerstones of one’s own theoretical conceptions. In a paper that has triggered off a new discussion on ‘Political Marxism’, Samuel Knafo and Benno Teschke insist on such a practice. In what follows I try to position the ongoing discussion in the wider context of theoretical concepts of Marxist historiography.
Knafo and Teschke’s provocative essay ‘Political Marxism and the Rules of Reproduction of Capitalism’ has prompted considerable debate. From a position of critical support, the present article intervenes in this debate by making three interrelated points. First, the structuralist–historicist divide that Knafo and Teschke identify is misleading and should be reformulated. Though the duality is real, this divide is best understood as a continuum between two kinds of historicism: a structural and an institutional historicism. Second, the article contextualises Knafo and Teschke’s intervention against the backdrop of their own intellectual development. Rather than returning to the tradition’s historicist origins, they have in fact stretched Political Marxism’s institutional tendencies to new limits. Third, the article concludes with a revision of their critique of the concept of market dependence. It is argued that the concept can be salvaged for the purposes of institutional historicism provided that it is rearticulated.
Multi-level marketing (mlm) firms offer recruits the opportunity to earn compensation through starting their own direct selling business and often characterize mlm work as part of the “gig” economy. mlm promotes flexibility, autonomy, and income potential but data suggest that most participants fail to make money. Decisions are made under uncertainty as there is asymmetric information on potential outcomes and their respective likelihood. We use the first nationally representative survey (N = 1016) to understand the motivations for participating in mlm “gigs,” the social and financial outcomes of participation, and the correlates of those outcomes. While approximately three-fourths of mlm workers report that they joined for financial returns, a similar share reported that they did not earn any profit. Results identify a mismatch between expectations and outcomes and underscore decision biases in the context of uncertain financial rewards alongside broader gig economy regulatory concerns.