19 Pages

Book Review Symposium: Rational Empires: Institutional Incentives and Imperial Expansion, by Leo Blanken

The words empire and imperialism have enjoyed a resurgence as terms that are applicable, and for some acceptable, in modern international politics, particularly with reference to the United States. Leo Blanken's Rational Empires: Institutional Incentives and Imperial Expansion builds upon this very scarce literature by offering a rational choice model of empire. He recognizes that there are differences of opinion and debates among historians, and that the issue of historiographical debate has to be addressed. Blanken's redress is that, adopting a 'neutral' posture, he simply uses empirical evidence that is largely agreed upon by the existing schools. Cain and Hopkin's study is the story of finance capital and its struggle to discipline and incorporate other forms of capital. The mid-twentieth century rise and diversification of production and investment facilities of corporations, insurance companies, and banks has blurred succinct boundaries between different sectors of the contemporary global economy, a fact brought home sharply by the Global Financial Crisis.