The dialectics of concept and reality
DOI link for The dialectics of concept and reality
The dialectics of concept and reality book
At the level of the global economy … the phenomenon of transformation not only strains the available vocabulary but on some accounts, its very occurrence remains in doubt.
(Ruggie 1993: 141)1
Increasing recognition of the possibilities of continuity and change in the global political economy has translated into a burgeoning of inter-disciplinary vocabulary and concepts. The vocabulary of power, domination and hegemony is used in ever-more creative and explanatory ways and frequently strained to take in counter-power, resistance and counter-hegemony. ‘Disciplinary neoliberalism’, for example, encompasses the structural power of capital-its capacity to shape expectations, material constraints and incentives-and behavioural power-shaped to develop a panoptic system of control over individuals, rendering them obedient and manipulatable to modernity (Gill 2003: 130-35). ‘Empire’, in addition, includes abundant new structures of power in a quasi-global arrangement-it is a network and biopower that creatively self-sustains through permanent warfare (Hardt and Negri 2005). In a contemporary period of interregnum, the search for a vocabulary to absorb alternatives to disciplinary neoliberalism and Empire has resulted in consideration of the post-modern prince (Gill 2000, 2003, 2008) and multitude (Hardt and Negri 2000, 2005). These are placed in this chapter within diverse and dispersed answers, asides and critiques which characterize the disciplinary response of critical Global Political Economythat part of the discipline most concerned with counter-hegemony-to explaining continuity and change. Discussion in the second part of this chapter is formulated in response to dissatisfaction with Gramscian responses to the possibilities of interregnum that, it is argued, derives from a persistent neo-Polanyian inﬂuence. It is said, for example, that Gramscian approaches give inadequate attention to the logic and nature of counter-hegemony (Eschle and Maiguashca 2005), more usually address counter-hegemony as a residual matter for future research (Morton 2003), and have yet to do any really hard work on counter-hegemonic theorization (Peet 2007: 194). Poor attention to counter-hegemony is argued in this chapter to derive from an
over-reliance on neo-Polanyian versions of change in the global political economy. In moving towards ‘a concept of something we cannot imagine’ the dialectical nexus between concept and reality is evoked in this and subsequent chapters of this book through conceptualizations of civil society and hegemony (Jameson 1990; Gramsci 1971; Cox 1999; Thompson 1963). The nexus points to the approximate and provisional nature of concept-formation and proposes global civil society and transversal hegemony as central to strengthening critical GPE responses to the possibilities of interregnum.