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Cataclysm 1914

The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics

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Edited by Alexander Anievas

Cataclysm 1914 brings together a number of leftist scholars from a variety of fields to explore the many different aspects of the origins, trajectories and consequences of the First World War. The collection not only aims to examine the war itself, but seeks to visualise the conflict and all its immediate consequences (such as the Bolshevik Revolution and ascendency of US hegemony) as a defining moment—perhaps the defining moment—in 20th century world politics rupturing and reconstituting the ‘modern’ epoch in its many instantiations. In doing so, the collection takes up a variety of different topics of interest to both a general reader, those focused on Marxian theory and strategy, and leftist and socialist histories of the war.

Contributors are: Alexander Anievas, Shelley Baranowski, Neil Davidson, Geoff Eley, Sandra Halperin, Esther Leslie, Lars T. Lih, Domenico Losurdo, Wendy Matsumura, Peter D. Thomas, Adam Tooze, Alberto Toscano, and Enzo Traverso.
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Edited by Alexander Anievas

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Edited by Alexander Anievas

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Edited by Alexander Anievas

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Reassessing the Nazi War Economy and the Origins of the Second World War

An Introduction to a Symposium on Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction

Alexander Anievas

Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction has received a fair amount of scholarly attention since its publication in 2006, particularly among historians. What has received much less attention, however, are the many theoretical insights to be gleaned from Tooze’s history of the inner-workings of the Nazi war economy in the lead-up to the Second World War. This is particularly true of the numerous theoretical subjects and themes covered by Tooze of direct relevance to Marxist theories and understandings of Nazism. From his analysis of the relationship between Nazi economic policies and Hitler’s geopolitical objectives to the relations between capital and state to the specificities of Nazism as a distinct ideological and cultural apparatus to the role of the Nazi regime in triggering the 1939 cataclysm – in all these ways, Tooze’s work speaks to a number of core issues at the heart of Marxist debates on Nazism, fascism, and the causes of the Second World War. This introduction outlines a number of these themes and more in Tooze’s work, contextualising them within extant Marxist debates on Nazism, before then going on to highlight some of the main arguments and criticisms advanced in the symposium.

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Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancıoğlu

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Our reply focuses on three key themes raised in the symposium. First, we discuss an enduring issue in Marxist International Relations: ‘the problematic of the international’ and the problems of methodological internalism. We examine how our interlocutors have responded to this problematic and why we consider these responses insufficient. Specifically, we suggest that the source of our disagreement is grounded in two divergent understandings of the problem of internalism itself. We then reassert the value of our chosen response to the problematic – uneven and combined development (UCD). Second, we respond to the criticism that our extension of UCD as a ‘transmodal’ general abstraction is problematic by further explicating the significance and role of general abstractions in Marxist theory – a point yet addressed by our critics. Finally, we return to the fundamental question at the core of the transition debate: what is capitalism and how do we theorise it?

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Alexander Anievas and Kerem Nişancıoğlu

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This article seeks to reassess the potential merits and weaknesses of the Subaltern Studies project through the prism of Vivek Chibber’s much-publicised and controversial book Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital. By critically examining Chibber’s work, the article aims to better pinpoint exactly what is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ with the Subaltern Studies project, while drawing out some productive points of engagement between Marxism and postcolonial theory more generally. In particular, we argue that an understanding of the origins of capitalist modernity remains a relatively unexplored omission within postcolonial thought that problematises their broader project of ‘provincialising Europe’. Against this backdrop, the article explores the affinities between Leon Trotsky’s notion of uneven and combined development and postcolonialism, demonstrating how the former can provide a theoretical solution to the problem of Eurocentrism that the Subaltern Studies project correctly identifies but inadequately conceptualises.