NEW BLOG SERIES: State capitalism(s) – Interrogating the ‘return’ of the state in development

6a00d83452719d69e2014e86055c29970d-800wi.jpgFrom Quantitative Easing to neo-mercantilist policies, the renewal of industrial policy, the multiplication of sovereign wealth funds and marketized state-owned enterprises, increased state participation in global value chains and global networks of corporate ownership, the state seems to be ‘back in business’ everywhere. This raises a series of questions:

  • Are we witnessing a shift to state-led development? A return of ‘state capitalism’ under a globalised and financialized form? Are these processes challenging market ascendance and/or neoliberalism as a global development regime?
  • Has there been a transformation of the developmental state and of the logics and instruments of ‘catch-up’ development? New tools of state intervention for industrial and innovation policy?
  • What are the implications of the resurgence of ‘state-capital hybrids’ (state-sponsored investment funds, state-owned enterprises, development banks, etc.) as key actors in development? Are these transforming the global development finance architecture? What is the relationship between, on the one hand, state-owned, state-controlled, and state-directed capital, and on the other hand, private capital?
  • What are the wider geopolitical and geo-economic shifts in which the rise of the new state capitalism is embedded? What is new about the recent ‘wave’ of state capitalism across the global economy? What are the strategic, structural/epochal, and contingent drivers of its emergence?
  • What is the progressive potential of these developments, both in the global South and in the global North? What are the limits to the new state capitalism, and the various forms of resistance to it?

We welcome both theoretical and empirical contributions exploring these themes. This blog series aims to stimulate critical debates from a plurality of academic perspectives (political economy, economics, sociology, development studies, law, international business, strategic management, geography, etc.) in order to critically interrogate the more visible role of the state in development, the economy, and society at large.

The more visible role of the state is also a chance to revisit and rethink (from both a theoretical and normative perspective) some of the most perennial questions of political economy: what is the state? What is the appropriate scope for state intervention? How should it relate to popular and democratic forms of control?

Overview of the series:

  • State Capitalism Redux? The first contribution to the series, written by Ilias Alami and Adam Dixon (both based at Maastricht University), acts as an introduction to the blog series. It provides some contextual information on the rise of the new state capitalism, and critically engages with the recent literature on the topic.
  • The local state origins of national economic development. This contribution by Milford Bateman offers a revised understanding of the developmental state, emphasising the history (and the progressive potential) of the local state in driving ‘bottom up’ structural transformation processes.
  • Indonesia’s State-Led Development: Custodian of the National Interest, or Boondoggle? James Guild looks at the much discussed case of State Capitalism in Indonesia under President Jokowi and identifies some key projects which highlight the developmental role of the state.
  • Lean on me: Development financial struggles and national development banks. Kyunghoon Kim scrutinizes the political economic determinants of the growing mobilisation of national development banks in a wide range of developing and advanced economies.
  • The Specter of State Capitalism. In this short commentary, Adam Dixon and Ilias Alami reflect on the coronavirus crisis and the reconfiguration of the state-capital relation it is catalyzing the world over.
  • ‘Climate Emergency’, COVID-19 and the Australian capitalist state. Anna Sturman draws upon materialist state theory to provide a critical reflection on the rearticulation of the Australian state in the context of the bushfire and coronavirus crises, and outlines strategies for reconfiguring the state in more progressive ways
  • Assessing the ‘Return’ of the State: Bringing Class Back In. Mehmet Erol critically analyses the ‘return’ of the state in the context of the current crisis, and emphasises the theoretical-political necessity of carefully considering class dynamics
  • The Promise – and Pitfalls – of State-led Development in Resource-rich Countries: Resource Nationalism in Latin America and Beyond. Jewellord Nem Singh provides an insightful analysis of the political economic determinants of resource nationalism as a state-led development strategy.
  • When does state-permeated capitalism work? Andreas Nölke examines to what extent large emerging economies (China, India, Brazil, and South Africa) feature ‘state-permeated capitalist systems’, and critically reflects on their economic success.
  • RMB internationalisation as an extension of Chinese state capitalism. Kean Fan Lim investigates the rationale underpinning the internationalization of the renminbi and shed​s light on its uneasy relationship with the transformations of Chinese state capitalism into a global process.
  • BNDES’ multidimensional retreat from the Brazilian economy. Kyunghoon Kim scrutinises the rise and fall of Brazil’s main national development bank, and argues that the current rollback of its operations may signal the end of active state capitalism in Brazil.

If you’re interested in contributing to the blog series, please contact the series editors Ilias Alami and Farwa Sial.

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