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The Emergence of the Global Political Economy

265 Pages · 2003 · 1.15 MB · English

  • The Emergence of the Global Political Economy

    THE EMERGENCE OF THE


    GLOBAL POLITICAL ECONOMY


    Given the current fascination with globalization and its possible implications, it is


    worth keeping in mind that the processes associated with globalization have been


    ongoing for centuries. They are not entirely novel or recent in origin. The book focuses


    on the emergence of a global political economy as early as the sixteenth century


    although even this development had been preceded by centuries of changes leading


    up to a closer economic integration of eastern and western Eurasia. Several themes


    are addressed. The political economic dynamics for the global system can be


    generalized but they are not timeless. Circumstances helped create a global political


    economy and, once created, it continues to evolve and undergo transformation. Some


    west Europeans played an important part in the emergence of the system but the


    ascendance of western Eurasia in the system cannot easily be attributed primarily to


    various “superior” attributes of western Europe. The major exceptions to this


    generalization are naval technology and military weaponry but it is also easy to


    exaggerate the role played by military superiority. A number of other factors were


    just as critical, if not more so. Once the system was created, a major dynamic for


    political change focused on a process of challenge developed. Although we do not


    always recognize the continuity of this process, the major wars of the past 500 years


    have been caught up and focused on questions of leadership succession in the global


    political economy. While we cannot assume that this process will go on forever, it is


    possible to sketch out its general parameters, and to use the historical tendencies to


    speculate about the future of the global political economy. The argument is not simply


    that the system is or has been governed by a cycle of periods of economic-political-


    military primacy, and leadership succession attempts, although that has been the


    case, but also that there are aspects of the dynamics that suggest a potential for further


    fundamental transformation of the global political economy.


    William R.Thompson is Professor of Political Science at Indiana University and a


    former co-editor of International Studies Quarterly (1994–98). He has previously taught


    at the University of California, Riverside, Claremont Graduate University, and Florida


    State University with visiting appointments at the Universities of Arizona and


    Minnesota. INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND


    HISTORY SERIES


    Edited by Jeremy Black


    How states operate internationally, the nature of conflicts that divide them, the


    instruments they employ to pursue their ideals and secure their interests are of


    paramount importance to historians and the study of history.


    The International Relations and History series explores the international system and


    international relations between countries and nation states from antiquity to the


    twentieth century. The series investigates themes such as the structure of international


    society, notions of statehood, national interest and the practicalities of conflict,


    competition and co-operation.


    Forthcoming titles:


    POST-WAR PEACE MAKING


    Philip Towle


    CODE OF CONDUCT: THE RULES OF


    INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS


    Ralph Menning


    FROM STATE FORMATION TO GLOBALIZATION


    Roland Axtmann


    THE AMERICAN CENTURY: THE FOREIGN RELATIONS


    OF THE UNITED STATES, 1900–2000


    Nigel J.Ashton


    THE UNITED STATES AND LATIN AMERICA


    Joseph Smith THE EMERGENCE


    OF THE GLOBAL


    POLITICAL ECONOMY


    William R.Thompson


    London and New York First published 2000


    by Routledge


    11 New Fetter Lane, London EC4P 4EE



    Simultaneously published in the USA and Canada by Routledge


    29 West 35th Street, New York, NY 10001



    Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group



    This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2003.



    © 2000 William R.Thompson


    All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or


    utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now


    known or hereafter invented, including photocopying, recording, or in


    any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing


    from the publishers.



    British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data


    A catalogue record for this book is available


    from the British Library



    Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data


    A catalog record for this book has been requested



    ISBN 0-203-45302-6 Master e-book ISBN





    ISBN 0-203-76126-X (Adobe eReader Format)


    ISBN 0-415-214-521 (hb)


    ISBN 0-415-214-53X (pb) CONTENTS


    List of figures vii


    List of tables viii


    Preface ix


    PART I


    Introduction and overview 1


    1 K-waves, leadership cycles, and global war: an orientation 3


    2 Evolutionary and coevolutionary considerations 22


    PART II


    The ascendance of western europe 37


    3 The 1490s: a question of evolutionary (dis)continuity? 39


    4 The divergent coevolution of two eurasian regions 54


    5 The military superiority thesis 74


    PART III


    The leadership challenge sequence 101


    6 The emergence of a challenge process 103


    7 Mountains of gold and iron 119


    8 Challenges in the active zone 134


    v CONTENTS


    PART IV


    Structural change and evolution 157


    9 Britain as a system leader in the nineteenth and twentieth


    centuries 159


    10 The Anglo-American rivalry before World War I 188


    11 Passing the torch in a manner of speaking: the system


    leader lineage 205


    Notes 222


    References 233


    Index 246


    vi FIGURES


    1.1 Innovation, concentration and warfare 17


    2.1 Coevolving parts of the whole 30


    4.1 Chinese and west European population growth, 200 BC-1500 AD 62


    8.1 A more intensive challenger model 145


    9.1 British relative decline 184


    10.1 US-British trade as proportions of their total trade 197


    10.2 The British-US transition in leading sector leadership 198


    10.3 Rational choice versus evolutionary approaches to rivalry analyses 201


    11.1 Constant’s turbojet partial heritage 210


    11.2 Commercial-maritime lineages 219


    vii TABLES


    1.1 Long cycles in global politics: learning and leadership patterns 8


    1.2 The hypothesized relationship between the learning long-cycle and


    global lead industries 11


    1.3 Predicted versus observed growth peaks in global lead industries 12


    1.4 Global war coalitions 14


    1.5 Attainment of global leadership and the timing of K-waves 16


    3.1 Endogeneity/exogeneity and the uniqueness of Europe in


    representative explanations of European ascendancy 43


    4.1 The presence or absence of certain critical factors in the transition


    of economic growth leadership from east to west 68


    5.1 The timing of imperial expansion and contraction (measured in


    squared megameters) 95


    8.1 Global lead economies 137


    8.2 Principal challengers and outcomes 147


    8.3 Testing the challenger model 148


    8.4 The historical evolution of challenger strategies 150


    8.5 Historical periods of capital accumulation and organization of


    companies with international activities 152


    9.1 Attributes alleged to distinguish history and social science 163


    9.2 Seventeen antistructuralist assertions about Britain’s role as a


    system leader 168


    9.3 Paul Kennedy’s theory of structural change 170


    9.4 Britain’s decline in naval power and leading-sector production 182


    10.1 Anglo-American crises after 1783 191


    10.2 Selected Anglo-American trade data 196


    11.1 An illustration of selected technological lineages 209


    11.2 Information technology dealt with horizontally and longitudinally 211


    11.3 US net foreign capital input as a ratio of net domestic capital


    formation 215


    viii PREFACE


    Book projects tend to have multiple origins and reflect several impulses. This one is


    no exception. It is my seventh book (counting authored, coauthored, and edited


    volumes) on the subject of world system development. Path dependencies being what


    they are, it should come as no surprise that I am continuing to work in this area.


    There is so much yet to be done that I doubt very much that it will be my last book


    on the subject. A second source, though, was Jeremy Black’s kind invitation to write


    something for this new series on historical topics. I think Jeremy thought it would


    be interesting to see if I could do a book without numbers in it. On my part, as a


    non-historian, the idea of getting a more direct access to historians and their students


    certainly had appeal. A third source can be laid at Jack Levy’s doorstep. Sometime


    around 1994, he invited me to do a paper commemorating the 500th anniversary of


    1495 for an International Studies Association panel. The year 1495 did not mean


    too much to me but it was close enough to 1494, which did have meaning, for me to


    go along. Not only did it turn out that I was the only one to go along on the “1495”


    panel (everybody else on the panel wrote about something else), I ended up with a


    very long paper that I would either have to extend even further or else walk away


    from it altogether. That paper became the core of chapters 3 and 4 and, a few years


    later, encouraged me to try my hand at the related subject of chapter 5.


    There are four other sources. One was an aborted, coauthored project on the idea


    of challenges and challengers from the early 1990s that somehow never proceeded


    very far. Again, I had written a very long paper for my part of the project but the


    other chapters were never quite forthcoming. After a few of these situations, you


    begin to identify with the first man out of a World War I trench who chances to


    look behind him and sees that no one else is following. The rational thing to do is to


    get back to the trench as fast as possible. I’m afraid my inclination is to keep charging


    the “enemy,” with or without company. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 stem from that project.


    George Modelski has been trying to educate me for thirty years so far. I hope he


    does not abandon the project. His latest innovation has been in moving toward the


    development of an evolutionary paradigm for international politics. I find that I


    tend to resist his arguments at first and then ultimately become convinced that he


    was right all along. Speaking, no doubt, to the question of to whether some people


    ix


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