ABSTRACT

The historical formation of a capitalist class out of an aristocracy shifting to commercial land-ownership and a merchant community investing in domestic production took place in dialectical interplay with the crystallisation of a particular state/society complex on the British Isles. As Cox has argued (1986: 205), such complexes, rather than states per se, constitute the basic entities of international relations. Not only would the most important functions of the modern state, which can be summed up under the heading of sustaining total capital internally and externally, have no meaning without reference to the social substratum on which it is erected, but also, the transnational involvement of social classes cannot be assessed properly. In reality, all social action is simultaneously structured by the tendency towards global unification represented by capital, and by the fact that every concrete state/society complex is ultimately held together by a specific structure of power and authority mediating its relations with other such complexes. In this chapter, we will analyse the growth of an organically unified group of states at the centre of the international political economy, of which the origins coincide with the primordial crystallisation of capital; as well as the successive appearance, on its horizon, of contender states challenging the preeminence of this original core, or as we call it, Lockean heartland.