Issue 15 – Marxism and Scale Question

Editors: Hülya Kendir, İbrahim Gündoğdu, Koray Yılmaz, Mustafa Kemal Bayırbağ, Selime Güzelsarı, Tarık Şengül

On Contributions of the ‘Scalar Approach’ in Explaining the Rise of Cities and Regions
Mustafa Kemal Bayırbağ

Mustafa Kemal Bayırbağ’s article discusses the contributions the scale approach offers in understanding the increasing significance of cities and regions as sites of policy-making and as political actors.The article begins with a critical evaluation of the popular perspective on this phenomenon, and benefiting from the openings introduced by the concept of scale, proceeds to discuss how a marxist framework of analysis with a hegemony perspective could be constructed. The main argument is that rise of localities is a part and product of the re-scaling process of the capitalist State. Yet, this is not an external response to the transformation of the capitalist state. The re-scaling of the capitalist State indicates that the hegemonic balance of power, including the local interests defıned around a certain Capital accumulation strategy has been transforming. In this sense, local interests are in a position to directly shape the re-scaling process of the capitalist State. Yet, this becomes possible through the construction of the locality as a political actor by these interests. In the neoliberal context, the social group which assumes this role is the dominant fraction of the local bourgeoisie. At this point, the scale literature makes an important observation: agents and institutions established at the local and non-local scales with different interests increasingly interact with each other at the local scale and stretch the boundaries of local politics to non-local scales. For this reason, political mobilisations aiming to establish their locality as an agent can become successful only by pursuing an effective politics of scale aimed at influencing the non-local agents and the processes producing non-local scales. In this sense, to be able to comprehend the increasing important of localities as policy-makers, the question of local politic s needs to be losely investigated. That sort of a research project should concentrate particularly on the changing role of institutions like labour unions and business chambers in local politics, and the political strategles of scale they follow, due to the fact that they are located on the hegemonic boundary between the state and civll society, now re-drawn with the re-scaling of the capitalist State.

Keywords:  question of scale, cities, regions, uneven development, Marxist geography.

Realistic Spatial Abstractlon? Marxist Obsarvations of a Claim within Critical Realist Geography
John Micheal Roberts

Critical realism has attracted substantial interest and following within social geography for a number years. A principal reason for this popularity lies with the critical realist method of abstraction. This method seeks to abstract the underlying causal powers of an object for social analysis at different levels of abstraction. The theoretical movement from the underlying reality of an object to its contingent and everyday appearance therefore enables geographers to explore different spatial scales of the same concrete object of analysis. This ability to take seriously an ‘underlying reality’ also enables geographers to spatialize, and embed themselves within, a radical heritage beginning with Marx. In this paper I wish to question the methodological power of criticaI realism for social geographical thought. By recourse to Hegel, Marx and Lefebvre, I want to show that critical realists and criticaI realist geographers in fact pursue different methodological projects to that of Marxism. Whereas Marxists seek to explore the self-movement of o contradictory essence, critical realists and critical realist geographers seek to explore the external and relational connection between causal powers. I argue that within this critical realist exploration there is a tendency to present a rather static account of essence, or causal powers, because of the non-dialectical and dualist assumptions about the world that such an account encourages. It is an account, moreover, which can lead to a somewhat impoverished radical social theory.

Keywords:  abstraction, critical realism, hegemony, Marxism, totality.

Changing Scale as Changing Class Relations: Variety and Contradictions in the Politics of Scale
Jamie Gough

This paper argues that changes of scale in political-economic processes are often associated with changes in class relations, articulated by particular class projects, and developed through class struggle. Such ‘jumping of scale’ may be not only an expression of class power but a constitutive element of it. But there is no simple one-to-one relation between scale change and class relations: a particular change in scale at a particular time may have multiple potential class implications. This argument is developed by considering two ‘stylised histories’ within Western Europe during the present long wave of stagnation: shifts of economic governance from the national to the local level, and shifts from the national to the EU level. I argue that in both cases changes in the scale of regulation have been associated with shifts in class relations. But both upward and downward rescaling have been associated with (at least) two class projects, the neoliberal and the social-democratic. Thus not only have the scale changes been contested but the lines of conflict have been complex. The two histories are used to reflect at a more abstract level on theinterconnections of scale, class relations and contradictions in accumulation. Developing an argument of Neil Smith, I argue that shifts in scale have been underpinned by a number of fundamental contradictions of capitalist reproduction and the State which open up diverse political possibilities. Class agents intervened into these contradictions, with varied political projects, partly through shifting their scales.

Keywords: Class relations, Capitalist contradictions, Neoliberalism, Social democracy, European Union.

Scale as a Class Relationship and Process: The Case of Turkish Public Procurement Law
Fuat Ercan-Şebnem Oğuz

In this study we focus on tvvo problematic aspects of the recent rescaling literature: overgeneralization of abstractions rather than examination of concrete class forces; and unidirectional understanding of the relationship between rescaling processes in the core and periphery, where rescaling is seen as an outcome of the uneven development of capitalist based on the tendency of overaccumulated capitals in the core to move to the periphery. We suggest an alternative approach that conceives rescaling as a class relationship and process shaped by the contradictory interaction between global capitals in the core and newly growing capitals in the periphery. Through a study of the formation and transformation of the public procurement law in Turkey (2001-2005), we illustrate that the rescaling of the Turkish public procurement market was not only shaped by global capitals unidirectionally, but through their contradictory interaction with the domestic capitals in Turkey. Although the initial law was formed under the hegemony of global capitals, the AKP government then made many attempts to change the law in line with the demands of domestic Capital groups. In this process, scale was shaped by the unequal but mutual power relationships between global and domestic Capital groups.

Keywords: Law of Public Tender, Turkey, class relations, capitalism, neoliberalism.

Towards a Critical Development Comprehension Rethinking Development in the Context of Scale Question
Koray R. Yılmaz

In the last two decades, it has observed a tendency from national development to local/regional development. İn this article we aim to explain this tendency in the context of scale question. We argue that this tendency should be understood as a process of rescaling of development. It is expected that this point of departure can allow us a more critical development comprehension.

Keywords:  capitalism, development, question of scale, critical development theory, Marxism.

The Other Scale Debate of Marxism: “Socialism in One Country” or World Revolution?
Sungur Savran

This article undertakes to clarify the question regarding the scale of the overthrowing of capitalism and the construction of a classless society, by now an almost classical scale debate within Marxism, one that predates the current hoşt of questions that relate to scale. The author deliberately avoids including Trotsky and the Stalin-Trotsky debate in the argument, but rather concentrates on the ideas of Marx and Engels and of Lenin and the Bolsheviks and compares and contrasts these with those of the major faction of the Bolshevik Party under Stalin. It is argued that both in the case of Marx and Engels and in that of the Bolsheviks, the whole edifice of the theory rises on the basis of the Central idea of a world revolution. The author cites clear evidence that both the programmatic documents and the theoretical work of all Marxists up until 1928, when “socialism in one country” became the centerpiece of the Comintern programme, were explicit on the necessity of world revolution and the rejection of any ideas implying the final construction of a classless society within the borders of a single country. The article further examines the foundations of the theory and programme of “socialism in one country” and finds them extremely fragile, if not outright unsustainable. The final verdict of the article is that the collapse of the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern and Central Europe confirms the truth of Marxism rather than refutes it.

Keywords: Marxism, Stalinism, combined and uneven development, world revolution, Leon Trotsky.

Trotsky, Permanent Revolution, and Eastern Europe

Ateş Uslu

There is a tendency to reduce Trotsky’s theory of permanent revolution to its aspect of “Stalin-Trotsky debate”. Thus, Trotsky’s revolutionary strategy is discussed as a merely doctrinal issue, and its historical context is neglected. The paper’s main aim is to contribute to the historicisation of the debates on Trotsky s theory, an to analyse, in this aim, Trotsky’s revolutionary theory and practice in its relationship with the context of Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe (i.e., the region covering Poland, eastern confines of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, as well as Estonia and Latvia) was, in the late 19th century, a complex of nationalities, and was geographically related to Central and Western Europe. All these characteristics made Eastern Europe a specific context, which determined some aspects of Trotsky’s theories. In the first part, the paper analyses the specificities of Eastern Europe -i.e., the legacy of the Commonwealth of Two Nations, the characteristics of urban development, and the nexus between nationalist and socialist movements, etc. The second part is concentrated on the Revolution of 1905 and its aftermath; and the third part makes an analysis of Trotsky’s activities in Bolshevik Revolution, in the Civil War, and in the Polish War of 1919-20.

Keywords: Eastern Europe, world revolution, Leon Trotsky, Stalinism, Marxism.

The Theories of Imperialism and the Internationalization of Capital
Özgür Öztürk

This paper tries to periodize the Marxist theories of imperialism, and to determine the continuity/discontinuity relations between the theorethical periods. It is stated that the Marxist theories of imperialism emerged in three main historical ‘waves’, and that the differences in emphasis between the different waves resulted from the different stages of the internationalization of Capital. The first wave of theories, also known as the classical theories of imperialism, has been formulated at the beginning of the 20th century; in this period the internationalization of money-capital has been remarkable, but the international movement of productive capital has been limited. Second wave of theories, put forward in 1960s and 70s, has generally been formulated within the underdevelopment literature and has focused on development-industrialisation instead of ‘capitalist development’. The internationalization of productive capital and the start of industrial accumulation in the third world has been determinant for the second wave of theories. The paper lastly deals with the recent theories of new imperialism. New theories seem to be the product of a period in which the movement of money-capital has accelerated.
Keywords: theories of imperialism, Marxism, internationalization of capital, Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg.

The Limits to Scale? Methodological Refltctions on Scalar Structuration
Neil Brenner

Fruitful new avenues of theorization and research ha ve been opened by recent writings on the production of geographical scale. However, this outpouring of research on scale production and on rescaling process has been accompanied by a notable analytical blunting of the concept of geographical scale as it has been blended unreflexively into other core geographical concepts such as place, locality, territory and space. This essay explores this methodological danger: first, through a critical reading of Sallie Marston’s (2000) recent article in this journal on “The social construction of scale” second, through a critical examination of the influential notion of a politics “of” scale. A concluding section suggests that our theoretical grasp of geographical scale could be significantly advanced if scaling processes are distinguished more precisely from other major dimensions of sociospatial structuratlon under capitalism. Eleven methodological hypotheses for confronting this task are then proposed.

Keywords: geographical scale, rescaling, production of space, sociospatial theory, structuration.

Islands of Practise and the Marston/Brenner Debate: Towards a More Synthetic Critical Human Geography
Mark Purcell

This paper argues that an important obstacle to the continued development of critical human geography are ‘islands of practice’, through which scholars become embedded in a research and writing tradition that limits their intellectual and political horizons. I use a recent nondebate in Progress in Human Geography between Sallie Marston and Neil Brenner as an illustration of how islands of practice can stifle intellectual exchange. The paper suggests that the best way to dissolve the islands is a methodological program to create a more synthetic approach that consciously integrates multiple aspects of the critical project.

Keywords: collaborative research, critical geography, methodology, scale.

Capitalism Communication and Development
Gamze Yücesan-Ali Murat Özdemir-Mete Yıldız

This study aims to examine the discourse on “information technologles and development” brought recently to the agenda by international organisations and by development institutes providing information to these organisations and its methodology, its indicators and its policy recommendations. The discourse on “information technologles and development”, while analysing the role and importance of information technologies for development only describes some aspects of the “reality” and leaves the main determinants of the “reality” in darkness. This study argues that economic, political and ideological mechanisms which are  “not seen” and “not considered” and the terms such as class, capitalist production relations, unequal development of capitalism, international division of labour and gender which enable the construction of these mechanisms should be included into the analysis in order to be able to analyse and explain the relation between “information technologies and development”.

Keywords: capitalism, communication, development, Marxism.