A proposal for working on a convergence of the ideas of Gramsci, Robert Cox and P2P Theory, by Örsan Şenalp:
Our intention is to draw mainlines for an historical materialist narrative of the rise of the p2p as the dynamic of true communal culture and social relationships among individuals and the peoples. We want to analyse how was it existed in each mode of production and now [based on Cox and Van der Pijls’ approaches] transnationalised and globalised. In a way we could draw a line between ‘cognitive’ and ‘transnational’ capitalism theories. We wish to explore empirically how did the spreading p2p relational dynamics has been transforming central productive forces (primarily society itself), and capitalist social relations of production, so how did this bring about a possibility of truly communal culture and social relationships first time at a global scale.
He further explains:
“Since the previous global crisis, that started in the late 60s, there has been major contributions made, from critical perspectives, to our understanding of the expanding of capitalist mode of production and the formation of the world market. Much of the insights were developed by political economists from the West/Center. The first and second generation classics were those of Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Karl Kautsky, Rudolf Hilferding, Vladimir I. Lenin, Bukharin, Karl Polanyi, Georg Lukacs and Antonio Gramsci. The third generation classical works has arrived in this period. Luis Althusser, Etienne Balibar, Ralph Milliband, Christian Palloix, Robin Murray, Immanuel Wallerstein, Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, Paul Baran, Paul Sweezy, Harry Magdoff, Henry Breverman, and Nichos Poulantzas -among others- have been key names who reopened and expanded the analysis of the state, classes, capitalism. In this post-war and New-Left era, both Gramsci and Polanyi had been rediscovered and their work stimulated -especially via Poulantzas’ analysis- the development of the analysis of the transnational dimension of the new transformations that capitalism were undergoing.
The fourth generation, sparked out of the thrd generation debate, spent precious attention spent on the TNCs, internationalization of capital, state and classes. Within this generation theorists the work of Robert W. Cox was one of a kind that could successfully synthesized the first, second and third generations by revaluing Gramsci’s work on national level -but also Poulantzas’ way of thinking of power and counterpower- to the global level of analysis. After serving long time as an ILO expert, Cox became a scholar at Colombia University and delivered his seminal articles which introduced a ‘Gramscian Turn’ in ‘international relations’. These first articles published in Millenium Journal of International Studies in the early 80s, in a way opened a way also open the way for the ‘globalisation of political economy’. These articles were successfully translating the basic concepts of Gramsci (like hegemony, historic bloc) to the international level. Such innovation broke a ground in realist IR dominated ‘discipline’. Production, Power and World Orders: Social Forces in the Making of History came out in 1987. Cox has developed his original concepts like state-society complex, internationalisation of production, internationalisation of state, and international class formation. The implementation of historical materialist method to the analysis of transnational relations in the book has been a great contribution to the major debates on the state, classes and globalisation. Cox work has later developed by theorists like Kees van der Pijl, Stephen Gill, Henk Overbeek, Otto Holman, William I. Robinson. This strand is known today as Neo-Gramscian global political economy perspective. Neo-Gramscian theorists have based their analysis of internationalisation or transnationalization of production on the earlier and current theories of ‘post-fordism’ inspired by regulation school (Aglietta, Boyer, Lipietz, Jessop).
There has also been important analyses delivered by on the one hand critical social theorists -most of those are claimed to be post-Marxist- like Habermas, Touraine, Castells, Gorz, Hist & Thompson etc., and on the other hand followers of Italian Autonomist Marxist tradition, which is known as Operismo, over the new developments in forces and relations of production, like the impact of communication and transportation technologies, networks, informalisation, TNCs so on. Based on this latter strand finally Hardt and Negri delivered their magnum opus: ‘Empire’, which can be tagged as a comprehensive post-disciplinary global political economy analysis. The Empire, when argues on production networks it successfully identified the link between the new productive forces, rising of networked relationships within the production processes, power structures and the new world order. Can be said that the work of Hardt and Negri was actually achieving what Cox could have done, without being informed by the accumulated work in the global political economy field. Thus the argument has included very limited empirical analysis of the relationship between the spreading network dynamics and the transnationalization of production. Nevertheless Empire has accelerated an intriguing theorisation of peer production, p2p relationships and p2p social networks. Such theorisation we think, sheds much better perspective in this regard, on how informatics has been transforming the key relationships of capitalist mode mode of production, from production to ownership, from distribution to consumption. That provides much deeper understanding (than Post-Fordism based theories) of how informatics based structural power of transnational capital, via global financial architecture, subordinated agriculture, trade, industry and services in every localities and regions in the world to itself. Yet empirically thin understanding of global political economy in this latter front, or a historical and materialist understanding of transnational social relations, especially those of related to production, creates an important gap.
Therefore global political economy perspective opened by Cox’s intervention and recently developed ‘p2p theory’ could benefit from a fruitful exchange. A p2p update on the understanding of the ‘transnationalization of production’ which as process overlaps with the informatization of economy, networkisation of societies, and neoliberal globalisation offensive; or vice versa; a global political economy upgrade for p2p theory, in our opinion is necessary. Such an exchange would provide much clear understanding of global power structures, capital and state partnerships that creates divisions among masses in order to rule and take advantage of the society, and possibilities to build up more efficient alternatives and counter strategies that would eventually diminish all sort of alienations in and between societies and favour the people globally.”