chapter  4
Post-Fordist hybridization: A historical-materialist approach to two modes of state transformation
Pages 20

The concepts of hybridization of the state and hybrid rule seek to explain recent state transformations, focusing on features beyond the “privatization of public authority” and the overly abstract question of whether the state loses or gains power as a result. The convincing starting point is to the argument that a “hybrid rule strategy seeks to safeguard the state’s legitimacy through valorization of the market as a primary mechanism in pursuit of myriad political objectives.”1 How we understand such transformational processes as well as the relationship between the public and the private depends strongly on the theoretical approach we take toward the state and its role and functions in society and our understanding of state power. From an historicalmaterialist perspective, the modern capitalist state is always a hybrid, but the concrete character of “really existing” and its social functions are contextual and contingent and it changes over time. At a middle-range level of abstraction,2 the post-Fordist, internationalized competition state must be regarded as both a contested product and an integral part of domination-shaped social restructuring and re-hybridization. This means that the transformation of diverse social relations, such as those between capital and labor, the international division of labor, gender relations and related forms of societal reproduction, ethnic relations and migration policies and social forms of the appropriation of nature and dealing with the ecological crisis are all affected by hybridization and hybrid rule. As a starting point for this chapter, I argue that historically concrete forms

of hybridity and state intervention depend largely on historical developments, relationships of forces and the reproductive conditions of those forces, for example, the reproduction of industrial capital during Fordism or recent financialized and globalized capitalism and the integration of local or national economies into the world market. In the second section I outline a theoretical understanding of state and hegemony and, against this background, briefly discuss my understanding of hybridization. After this I offer a sketch of recent state transformation, that is, the internal restructuring and internationalization of the state-or better said, its internal structuring

through the inter-and transnationalization of societal relations-as well as its changing practices. Note that hybridization becomes a means through which the “state” becomes internationalized and something more than merely an aggregation or interplay of particular and notionally independent national states. In this chapter, and somewhat in contrast to the other formulations in this

volume, I focus on two dimensions of hybridization that I consider crucial (but not exclusively so): the public-private and the national-international. Fordism was the hegemonic mode of development in the West and East during much of the 20th century, beginning in the 1920s. It was not, however, institutionalized internationally until the 1950s and 1960s. During the latter period, often regarded as the “Bretton Woods” phase, hybrid rule and relations were stabilized primarily at the national level, but these also came to be embedded in the international political and economic relations of both Pax Americana and Pax Sovietica (Cox 1986). As noted elsewhere in this volume, during the 1970s this national-international Fordist system came into crisis. In the 1980s, the power-shaped restructuring of both dimensions of hybridity strongly reshaped societal relations, a process that accelerated after 1989. Subsequently, neoliberal or “post-Fordist” hybridization along “public-private” and “national-international” lines became more or less globally hegemonic, a structuring moment for many social relations. In the wake of the Great Recession, more recent post-Fordist efforts to stabilize societal relations of domination through certain modes of development have come into crisis, as well. It is too soon to determine, however, whether “post-neoliberal” forms can effectively address what appears to be a chronic global crisis of underconsumption and over-accumulation (Brand and Sekler 2009). This most recent (and continuing) of post-Fordist capitalism is again both shaping and destabilizing manifold social relations, without any obvious outcome in evidence (Demirovic´ et al. 2011; Brand and Wissen 2012: 327-345). Against this background, (the shaping of) hybridization and hybrid rule

should be understood as elements of both politics and policies that motivate and follow changing conditions of societal reproduction and power relations (hegemony) as well as related discourses and governmentalities. In particular, the enhancement and reconfiguration of private property rights is a key dimension in the hybridization of the internationalized competition state, evident in ongoing enclosure of “knowledge commons” and the high visibility of intellectual property rights claims. These changes, diffused from the U.S. national context into the international realm, must be understood against the background of both changing relationships of social forces and relations and changing patterns and practices of accumulation and regulation reproduction. The latter, especially, goes beyond a narrow understanding of political economy as concerning merely trade and markets; instead, political economy embraces many other social spheres that are generally not located at the center of the accumulation process (Brand, Görg, Hirsch and Wissen 2008; Sum and Jessop 2014).