The Quandary of Multiple States as an Internal and External Limit to Marxist Thought: From Poulantzas to Karatani

Rethinking Marxism A Journal of Economics, Culture and Society 31 (1):72-92 (2019)
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At the time of the disintegration of “actually existing socialism” in the 1990s, it appeared that the inexorable flux of globalization was going to consume the nation-state. However, recent years have witnessed the increasing role of the states in both the Global North and South. The relationship between the state and capital is a frequently traversed subject, but what needs further illumination is the persistence of “many states” and its relation to capitalism as both a national and global formation. While globalization of capital suggests a movement from multiplicity toward a dehistoricized abstraction, a global state has never been actualized. This implies that, unlike capital, the state cannot be dehistoricized or dedifferentiated; therefore, the only way to think about the state is to observe concrete, multiple states. In view of this difference and drawing on Nicos Poulantzas’s and Kōjin Karatani’s inquiries into the states system, this article examines the multi-state system as an internal and external limit to Marxist thought.

Author's Profile

Baraneh Emadian
University of Westminster (PhD)


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