Power and Wealth: The Political Economy of International Power

Power and Wealth: The Political Economy of International Power

Power and Wealth: The Political Economy of International Power

Power and Wealth: The Political Economy of International Power

Excerpt

Students of international relations have long been aware of the interconnections between the politics and the economics of their subject. Classical and medieval writers always emphasized the dynamic interaction of the two factors in relations between states and between nations. Likewise, mercantilist writers repeatedly emphasized the reciprocity that existed between economic policy and national power. Even Adam Smith, the great foe of the mercantilists, admitted the relevance of political considerations in discussing issues of public economy. It was Smith who allowed that despite the attractions of free trade, tariffs might be advisable on grounds of national security. "Defense," he said, "is of much more importance than opulence."

It was only in the nineteenth century, with the gradual development of the two separate disciplines of economics and political science, that the interconnections between economics and politics in international relations came to be de-emphasized. Economics evolved as the study of welfare and of issues relating to the allocation of scarce resources, political science as the study of power and of issues relating to the resolution of conflicting interests. Gradually most economists and political scientists (other than Marxist theorists) began to act as if "never the twain shall meet." And as a result, they rarely do. The bulk of the modern, conventional literature on international relations is curiously dichotomous. International economists write about international economics, political scientists write about international politics— and a gulf exists between them which, if anything, seems to grow . . .

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