Abstracts

Review XXVI, 1, 2003

R. Bin Wong, "Between Nation and World: Braudelian Regions in Asia"

This article examines the ways in which Fernand Braudel's study of the Mediterranean has been an inspiration for scholars studying Asian history. The author suggests ways in which a region conceived in a Braudelian fashion can be a useful spatial unit of analysis for topics such as transformations of states that avoids assuming the European pattern of state formation to be either norm for or the main determinant of political changes elsewhere. By encouraging scholars to locate at least some important historical dynamics on regional scales Braudel's Mediterranean offers a strategy for grappling with large-scale patterns of change in Asia and elsewhere that need not be located at either the national or global levels.

Hans-Heinrich Nolte, "Why Is Europe's South Poor? A Chain of Internal Peripheries Along the Old Muslim-Christian Borders"

Christian power elites, in the course of their expansions towards the Muslim world from the Middle Ages on, created peripheries - regions, which for centuries were/are structured for uses of the respective centers: for example the "poor South" of Europe. An important feature of this dependence was/is organization in space, which outlasted even a revolution like that of 1917 - for example, the southern Ukraine was used for interests "Moscow" decided upon in 1928-33.

Ray Kiely, "The Race to the Bottom and International Labor Solidarity"

Northern trade unions and anticapitalist campaigners often argue that globalization has led to a "race to the bottom" in order to attract capital investment. Using a particular, "strong," and unambiguous interpretation of the race to the bottom, the argument is made that a hyper-mobile global capital is the main cause of lower wages, higher unemployment, and worse conditions, which in turn has led to an increase in inequalities within countries. It is sometimes implied that this race to the bottom has provided the material basis for global labor solidarity, as the transnational multitude resist a transnational capitalist class. This article questions the notion that there is a simple race to the bottom, and suggests that insofar as one exists, it is relative, both in terms of regional patterns of investment and its effects on work and living standards. Contrary to the implication of the race to the bottom argument, the world is not converging on the basis of a uniform leveling down (or a uniform leveling up as apologists for globalization suggest), but is actually diverging through a process of intensified uneven development. A more nuanced interpretation of the race to the bottom is proposed, and the implications for international labor solidarity are then reconsidered. The argument is made that such solidarity cannot be forged on the basis of narrowly economistic arguments, as these have encouraged national protectionism. On the other hand, a spontaneous, network-based solidarity lacks a concrete grounding in particular local and national space. An alternative solidarity, based on the interaction of local, national, and global spaces is briefly outlined.


Review XXVI, 2, 2003

Rolf Czeskleba-Dupont, "Sustainable World-System Development: Restructuring Societal Metabolism"

Social scientific contributions were useful to combine formerly separated environmental and developmental discourses in the concept of sustainable development, as it was unfolded in the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED). Even if it also contained a substantive analytical definition of the concept, the latter was, however, not adopted into discursive use. It was, as in the report itself (chapter 7 on Energy), mostly further elaborated in low energy scenarios proposed by technicians and natural scientists. The radical approach of social ecologist Barry Commoner is, thus, still relevant in order to avoid the usual shortcomings of both market orthodoxy and institutional economics that either directly hinder or proceed only part-way in the direction of a full-scale conceptualisation of sustainability strategies. An integrative approach, furthermore, demands a nondualistic conceptualization of societal relations between man and nature, which facilitates to conceive of a more comprehensive perspective of sustainable world-systems development.

Jonathan Leitner, "North American Timber Economy: Log Transport, Regional Capitalist Conflict, and Corporate Formation in Wisconsin's Chippewa Basin, 1860B1900"

Log transport in the early industrial world-economy could be a highly contentious process, with struggles between competing firms, regional fractions of capital, and capital with the state, sometimes all concurrently. Nineteenth-century North America was no exception, with logging and lumber industries as major parts of many local economies on the edge of the expanding world-economy. A prime example is Wisconsin's Chippewa River Basin. Examining the history of white pine log extraction and transport in the basin during the late nineteenth century helps reveal not only the processes of incorporation, capital conflict, and capital concentration inherent to semiorganized capitalist industry in the U.S. periphery at this time, but also the key role played by the environment in these processes. Environmental conditions constrained capital, but also enabled capital by compelling sawmill firms into corporate aggregations for the extractive process - corporate aggregations that were actually larger and more powerful for the sawmills from outside the Chippewa Basin, due to the greater constraints they faced, which in turn appear to have enabled them to outcompete and force the sawmills located within the basin into a quiescent junior partnership. The result was more effective extraction, which also meant quicker deforestation, with capital accumulated by the larger, "foreign" fraction reinvested in timber extraction and lumber production elsewhere in the United States as the basin's pine was depleted. Capital within the basin appears at least in part to have stayed in the area and reinvested in other sectors, a pattern that appeared elsewhere in North America.

Jason W. Moore, "Nature and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism"

An epochal transformation of nature-society relations was inscribed in the transition from feudalism to capitalism. This article advances three central propositions. First, the origins of today"s global ecological crisis are found in the emergence of the capitalist world-economy in the "long" sixteenth century - not in industrialization, population growth, or market expansion, as the conventional wisdom would have it. Secondly, the crisis of feudalism was a general crisis not only of medieval Europe's political economy, but in equal measure an expression of feudalism's underlying ecological contradictions. Thirdly, the rise of capitalism effected a radical recomposition of world ecology. As early as the sixteenth century, we can see how the emergent logic of capital, which at once implies endless expansion and seeks to flatten socio-ecological diversity, undermined the possibilities for a sustainable relation between nature and society. Capitalism thus differed radically from feudalism and all other precapitalist formations. Where earlier ecological crises had been local, capitalism globalized them. From this stand-point, the origins of capitalism may shed light on today's ecological crises.

Review XXVI, 3, 2003

Oscar C. Gelderbloom, "From Antwerp to Amsterdam: The Contribution of Merchants from the Southern Netherlands to the Commercial Expansion of Amsterdam (c. 1540B1609)"

In the late sixteenth century Antwerp lost its leading role in international trade to Amsterdam. Between 1578 and 1609 more than 500 merchants from the Southern Netherlands moved to Amsterdam. Contrary to what most historians believe, Antwerp's merchant elite contributed little to the rise of the Amsterdam market. Most merchants moving to the Dutch port were relatively young, inexperienced, and had limited capital. The immigrants made up one-third of the city's merchant community, with their capital at least in keeping. Their arrival allowed the continuation of the commercial interaction that developed between Antwerp and Am-ster-dam in the 1540's. This article argues that the Dutch conquest of new markets and products after 1578 depended on the continual interaction between merchants from the Northern and Southern Netherlands.

Leo Lucassen & Wim Willems, "The Weakness of Well-Ordered Societies: Gypsies in Western Europe, the Ottoman Empire, and India 1400B1914"

In this article we have tried to reach a better understanding of the way various itinerant groups who traveled with their families, commonly labeled as Gypsies, have been treated in western Europe from the fifteenth century onwards. We argue first of all that it is essential to study day-to-day interaction at the local level and avoid a one-sided top down repression history. Moreover, it is clear that the legal rhetoric of extreme repression was only effective in certain periods and in certain regions, whereas the extent to which Gypsies were accepted and given the possibility to lead their itinerant lives depended on the group and the specific local context. A second major conclusion of this article is that two important factors stimulated the stigmatization of Gypsies. The first is closely linked with the path of state formation. With the emergence of dynastic states in Early Modern Europe, rulers left less room for subjects who remained out of its reach. Vagrants and itinerant groups, Gypsies in particular, were increasingly seen as a threat to society, which was considered sedentary. Equally important, and closely linked to the concept of a well-ordered society, is the functioning of the poor relief. The restructuring of this system in the same period led to the stigmatization of those who did not have a fixed abode and who were not integrated in these locally based arrangements. The structural inability or weakness of the European well-ordered societies to deal with Gypsies was finally accentuated by comparisons with the Ottoman Empire and precolonial India. Both cases highlight the two key variables for our understanding of the antagonistic relationship between Gypsies and the state. On the one hand is the desire to bring subjects under direct control and to make population-groups legible. On the other hand is the double faced nature of poor relief systems, whose rules for inclusion based on a sedentary model irreversibly excluded and stigmatized highly mobile groups.

Mario Gonzalez Arencibia, "Socialismo entre globalizacion y mercado: Experiencias de Europa, China y Vietnam"

This article examines the effect of globalization on socialist countries, particularly eastern Europe, China, and Vietnam. The theoretical basis of market socialism springs from ideas of Utopias espoused in the mid-nineteenth century. In fact, socialism unlinked to the market, as pursued in the former Soviet Union and in eastern Europe, had a high administrative cost and led to inefficiency. Between 1987 and 1990, the idea emerged of connecting to globalization via a renovated socialism. The result was a further erosion in the area of technology, a loss of scientific-technological culture, and reduced ability of these countries to negotiate with the rest of the world. Globalization has also had a negative effect on China and Vietnam. China's "planned market economy" has increased polarization between wealth and poverty, and has reduced social welfare. Vietnam has experienced similar results, with an additional problem of corruption. The author concludes that all modes of socialism are penalized by transformations wrought by globalization if the state is not built on a solid economic, political, and social base, and if the state cannot face economic reality.

Review XXVI, 4, 2003

Stephen G. Bunker & Paul S. Ciccantell, "Creating Hegemony Via Raw Materials Access: Strategies in Holland and Japan"

In this article, we examine the roles of raw materials and their transport as key generative sectors in the ascent of two rising core economies, Holland and Japan. We show that the organizational, technical, and informational capacities developed by these states and by the Dutch and Japanese shipbuilding, shipping, and raw materials firms to insure access to and to transport raw materials led to the creation of those capacities across many sectors of their national economies, driving the broader processes of national development and the rise of these nations to preeminent positions in the capitalist world-economy. By comparing two cases of rapid economic ascent separated by three centuries, we demonstrate the generality of the role of generative sectors in raw materials and transport across space and time in the capitalist world-economy. We also show the utility of our theoretical and methodological approach for understanding economic ascent, hegemony, systemic transformation, and the globalization of the capitalist world-economy.

Stephan Gandler, "Alltag in der kapitalistischen Moderne: Nicht-eurozentrische Theoriebeiträge aus Mexiko"

Es handelt sich um eine kritische Analyse der Begriffe kulturelle Mestizaje und vierfaches historisches Ethos der kapitalistischen Moderne von Bolívar Echeverría, Professor für Philosophie der Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. Die Alltagsformen in Ländern Lateinamerikas werden dabei, entgegen der zur Zeit vorherrschenden Einschätzungen, nicht als vormodern oder Abweichungen zur Moderne, sondern als andere Form der Moderne gefaßt. Die Werkeltagkultur in Mexiko und in wichtigen Teilen Lateinamerikas enthält Elemente, die in gewisser Hinsicht moderner sind als andere, die in der sogenannten Ersten Welt vorherrschen. Dazu gehört auch die Fähigkeit zur kulturellen Mestizaje, die im barocken Ethos in größerem Maße gegeben ist als im weltweit vorherrschenden realistischen Ethos. Letzteres kann heute immer weniger die der kapitalistischen Moderne anhaftende Tendenz zur Segregation besänftigen, und dennoch beharren seine Apologenten unbeirrt auf dem Anspruch, es repräsentiere die Moderne schlechthin.



Sjaak van der Velden, "Strikes in Global Labor History: The Dutch Case"

Official strike statistics are compiled to measure the influence of labor conflicts on production in any given country. Scholars wanting to measure social change are forced to carry out extensive research and cannot simply rely on the figures given by government institutions and the International Labour Organization (ILO). However, it is doubtful whether the results of the WLG database are a good alternative. Taking the Dutch statistics on strikes as an example, we will try to identify a new method of measuring strike activity.


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