chapter  5
The world market, variegated capitalism and the crisis of European integration
Pages 21

This chapter critiques world system theory and early work on varieties of capitalism and proposes an alternative account that ‘sublates’ both approaches.1 Specifically, drawing on Marx, the regulation approach, and critical international political economy, this alternative posits the existence of a fractally variegated capitalism within a world market that is currently organised in the shadow of a finance-dominated neo-liberalism backed by imperial power. On this basis it further argues that, even in crisis, the distinctive dynamic of this form of neoliberalism remains ‘ecologically dominant’ insofar as it continues to cause more problems for the other socio-economic regimes with which it is coupled2 than they can cause for it. The fractal character of the ecological order constituted in and through the world market creates space for other regimes to develop their own regional hegemonies or dominance but their overall impact depends on their insertion into the world market. Two examples of ecological dominance are, first, the pathological co-dependence of the US and Chinese economies and their respective zones of influence and its cumulative repercussions on a global scale; and, second, the primacy of Modell Deutschland in the economic and political dynamics of European economic space and its contribution to the Eurozone crisis, its wider ramifications and the associated crisis in crisis-management. This chapter illustrates the potential of the proposed alternative approach by analysing the EU’s development from the initial integration of six complementary ‘Rhenish’ economies to today’s relatively incoherent, crisis-prone variegated capitalist (dis) order. It also asks (without providing a conclusive answer) whether the Eurozone crisis can be solved through greater economic, fiscal and political integration – the usual response to crises in the EU – or involves a more lasting structural, perhaps terminal, incompossibility.