Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System

Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System

Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System

Questioning Geopolitics: Political Projects in a Changing World-System

Synopsis

This volume takes an enlightened step back from the ongoing discussion of globalization. The authors reject the notion that globalization is an analytically useful term. Rather, globalization is seen merely as the framework of the current political debate on the future of world power. Among many other novel ideas advanced by the authors are: the explicit prediction that East Asia is not going to become the center of the world; the contention that the USSR collapsed for the same reasons that nearly brought down the United States in 1973; and the notion that the regional economic networks that are emerging from under the modern states are in fact rather old formations.

Excerpt

Randall Collins and David V. Waller

In this brief overview, we will summarize the main points of geopolitical theory in relation to world-system theory. the aim is to see where there are problems within each model, disagreements between them, and finally where they might be integrated. the starting point of geopolitical theory is that the center of the state is its military apparatus. the geopolitical line of argument is that the behavior of states (and to a considerable extent their structure as well) is determined from the outside in; states act and react in relation to the military capacities of those around them. This rather forbidding view of the state is consonant with Max Weber's approach, and with a major theme of historical sociology of the past two decades. the history of states is the growth, transformation, and crises of their military apparatus, and of the organizational machinery constructed to support it.

Geopolitical theory thus meshes with what might be called the militarycentered theory of state development. the latter has been formulated by a number of scholars, from which the leading statements are perhaps those of Charles Tilly (1990) and Michael Mann (1993). in brief, the modern story starts with the so-called military revolution that began around 1500, a series of large expansions in the size and expense of armed forces. the result was that rulers embarked on a program of revenue extraction to support the ever-increasing numbers of battlefield troops, the shift to centrally supplied gunpowder weapons, the parallel expansion of naval armaments, and the logistics costs associated with all of these. the effort to extract greater revenue for the state led to a chain of consequences: It fostered a bureaucratic organizational apparatus, increasingly penetrating society, tabulating information and inscribing the population as tax-

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