Thoughts on the state, capitalism and development

DSC00236The following telling quote is taken from the entry on ‘Capitalism and Development’ by John Sender and Jonathan Pincus in The Elgar Companion to Development Studies (2006): p.49.

“[A]nti-capitalists and their erstwhile neoliberal opponents in the multi-national organisations have much more in common than either would wish to admit. Both have, in their own way, failed to address the central role of states in the development of capitalism. While anti-capitalists see the state as a powerless pawn in a globalised system dominated by external actors, neoliberals view the state as an obstacle to what they see as the natural course of market-led growth that will flourish as long as states do not intervene in the functioning of perfect or near-perfect markets. But this is ahistorical in the extreme. Capitalism has spread by creating an increasing number of national economies and nation states. ‘When capitalism was born, the world was far from being a world of nation states. Today it is just that’ (Ellen Meiksins Wood). Since its initial emergence in the English countryside, capitalism has always required the nation state to create social, political and economic conditions favourable to accumulation. Concerted state action to establish and protect property rights, create national markets, support capitalists’ efforts to penetrate external markets, and to train and discipline labour is as much a feature of contemporary capitalist development as it was in the nineteenth century.”

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