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The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) are most typically understood from the perspective of their position as the world’s key oil- and gas-producing states. This essay explores the largely-overlooked processes of class-formation in the GCC, and argues that very profound tendencies of capital-internationalisation are occurring alongside Gulf regional integration. The circuits of capital are increasingly cast at the pan-Gulf scale, and a capitalist class – described as khaleeji-capital – is emerging around the accumulation-opportunities presented within the new regional space. The formation of khaleeji-capital represents the development of a class increasingly aligned with the interests of imperialism and has important ramifications for understanding the region’s political economy.

In: Historical Materialism
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This article explores the financialisation of the world’s most important commodity, oil. It argues that much of the literature on the financialisation of commodities tends to adopt a dualistic approach to financial markets and physical producers, where financial and non-financial activities are assumed to be externally-related and counterposed to one another. The article locates the roots of this analytical separation in a mistaken acceptance of the fetish character of interest-bearing capital (IBC) – a view that the exchange of loanable sums of capital represents a relationship between money-capitalists rather than a relationship to the moment of production. Against such dichotomous readings, the article argues that the financialisation of oil needs to be understood as part of the reworking of ownership and control across the oil commodity circuit, expressed through the combined centralisation and concentration of capital over the money, productive and commercial moments. This argument is demonstrated through an original empirical investigation of the US oil industry, including 20 years of weekly trading data on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and a detailed study of more than 160 oil and energy-related firms in the US. By mapping the structural weight and connections between different capitalist actors involved in accumulation across the oil sector, we gain a better understanding of the ultimate dynamics (and beneficiaries) of the carbon economy.

Open Access
In: Historical Materialism
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Abstract

This paper addresses the role of global migration and the nature of national borders within the co-constitution of class and race. We begin with Marx’s critique of the value-form – a critique that rests upon a distinction between the ‘essence’ of social reality and its immediate appearances. The paper elaborates how Marx’s understanding of the emergence of a society based upon generalised commodity production leads to a certain conception of the ‘political state’ and citizenship – and thus borders and national belonging. This reveals the distinctive territorial forms of capitalism vis-à-vis those found in pre-capitalist societies, and moves us away from transhistorical conceptions of borders and the nation-state. In the second half, the paper turns to look at what this conception of borders and migration might mean concretely for how we think about the co-constitution of race and class today. Here the focus is on three crucial aspects of the contemporary world market: (1) the relationship between the cross-border movements of labour and processes of class formation, (2) migration and the determination of the value of labour-power, and (3) coercive and unfree labour.

Open Access
In: Historical Materialism