The uses and misuses of uneven and combined development: an anatomy of a concept

Allinson, J.C. and Anievas, A. 2009. The uses and misuses of uneven and combined development: an anatomy of a concept. Cambridge Review of International Affairs. 22 (1), pp. 47-67.

TitleThe uses and misuses of uneven and combined development: an anatomy of a concept
AuthorsAllinson, J.C. and Anievas, A.
Abstract

A central concern of much contemporary Marxist scholarship in international relations (IR) is to internally relate global capitalism and the state system without reducing one of these systems to an epiphenomenon of the other. A recent attempt at this is Justin Rosenberg's reformulation of Leon Trotsky's idea of uneven and combined development (U&CD). This article examines the internal relations of ‘unevenness’ and ‘combination’ as presented by Trotsky and reworked by Rosenberg. From this anatomization of the concept, we focus on the problematic status of U&CD as a transhistorical general abstraction arising from the exchange between Callinicos and Rosenberg (Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22:1 2008, 77–112) and suggest our own possible solution. We argue that while the uneven and combined nature of historical development represents a truly transhistorical phenomenon, its distinct causal determinations, articulated and expressed through inter-societal competition, are only fully activated under the specific socio-historical conditions of generalized commodity production. These theoretical points are illuminated through three specific historical examples (the Meiji Restoration, the ‘Eastern Question’ and the origins of the two World Wars). Finally, we illustrate some of the dangers of analytical overextension found in Rosenberg's own ambiguous use of U&CD.

JournalCambridge Review of International Affairs
Journal citation22 (1), pp. 47-67
ISSN0955-7571
Year2009
PublisherRoutledge
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1080/09557570802680132
Publication dates
Published2009

Related outputs

The uneven and combined development of the Meiji restoration: a passive revolutionary road to capitalist modernity
Allinson, J.C. and Anievas, A. 2010. The uneven and combined development of the Meiji restoration: a passive revolutionary road to capitalist modernity. Capital and Class. 34 (3), pp. 469-490.

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/90v93/the-uses-and-misuses-of-uneven-and-combined-development-an-anatomy-of-a-concept


Share this
Tweet
Email