The causes of war in Ukraine: on dialectical method and the role of global political economy

July 29, 2023

On the day that Russia attacked Ukraine, 24 February 2022, I was with my friend and colleague Tuomas Forsberg (TF) at the gym swimming as we do every now and then. We discussed the war and, above all, whether it could have been avoided and how. Over the years, we have had countless similar conversations. Although we have many joint interests, our theoretical research orientations as well as general political orientations are somewhat different. One of our agreements concerns the relevance of the dialectical method. As we both consider that arguments have to be formed in relation to other, alternative interpretations, we thought that perhaps we could try writing a systematic analysis of the causes of the war following the dialogue format. This resulted in a book Debating the War in Ukraine. Counterfactual Histories and Possible Futures published in December 2022 (available open access). The book is now followed by a special forum of Globalizations, “War in Ukraine: Future Possibilities”, published in July 2023, which includes our “The shape of things to come: a further dialogue” (also available open access). [This blog was originally published at the Progress in Political Economy PPE-website in Sydney and can be directly accessed here.]

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Emerging stories to live by

May 10, 2023

I fully support the idea that “our challenge today is to normalize more expansive ways of seeing and thinking that can offer the guidance, motivation, and hope needed to unite humans behind the colossal project of the Great Transition.” A worldview based on wide scales of time and space is essential for human survival and flourishing and, as David Christian emphasizes, recent developments in science and technology “have revolutionized our understanding of the histories of Earth and the biosphere.” [This is my contribution to the May 2023 GTI Forum Big History and Great Transition]

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Towards a ‘field theory’ of global political economy

May 9, 2023

In 1976, Robert Gilpin distinguished three contrasting political economy perspectives: liberalism, Marxism, and mercantilism. Gilpin introduced these International Relations derived categories as theories and ideologies of political economy, sometimes conceived either as explanatory models or future scenarios. He recognises that the three ideologies ‘define the conflicting perspectives’ that actors have, but he does not go as far as to theorise how the perspectives may be part of the dynamics of the world economy and generative of its history and future. Gilpin’s models, scenarios, and theories are thus mainly cognitive attempts to understand reality from the outside. Since Gilpin’s main works, a large number of critical and constructivist IPE and GPE approaches have arisen, stressing the constitutive role of ideas and performativity of theories. Many of these studies, however, tend to focus on aspects of contemporary matters or specific issues and fall short of analysing broad historical developments and, most markedly, causation. [This blog was originally published at the Progress in Political Economy PPE-website in Sydney and can be directly accessed here.]

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Finnish elections 2023: further shifts to the right coincide with NATO membership

April 3, 2023

The result of the Finnish parliamentary elections held on Sunday 2 April is clear: the right-wing conservative parties won, and the center-left base of Sanna Marin’s government lost. The conservative party got 48 seats and the Finns party 46 out of 200. Although the social democrats slightly increased their share of votes (to 19.9%) and seats (to 43), this was likely because some supporters of the Greens and Left Alliance and perhaps also the Centre Party decided tactically to concentrate votes on social democrats in the hope of making them the biggest party. The three other main parties of the government coalition lost a combined 26 seats. (This blog was originally published by Brave New Europe).

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