SWFsEUROPE

Ilias Alami and Adam Dixon spoke with Nick Jepson about their recent talk at the Global Development Institute. The talk contributes to the development of state capitalism as a reflexively critical project focusing on the morphology of present-day capitalism, and particularly on the changing role of the state. We bring analytical clarity to state capitalism studies by offering a rigorous definition of its object of investigation, and by demonstrating how the category state capitalism can be productively construed as a means of problematising the current aggregate expansion of the state’s role as promoter, supervisor, and owner of capital across the world economy. Noting some of the geographical shortcomings of the field, we outline an alternative research agenda – uneven and combined state capitalist development – which aims at spatialising the study of state capitalism and revitalising systemic explanations of the phenomenon. We then offer a geographic reconstruction of the current advent of state capitalism. We identify the determinate historical-geographical capitalist transformations which underpin contemporary state capitalism. Such processes include: the accelerating unfolding of the new international division of labour; technological modernization and industrial upgrading culminating in the Fourth Industrial Revolution; an unprecedented concentration and centralisation of capital; and a secular shift in the centre of gravity of the global economy from the North Atlantic to the Pacific rim. The political mediation of these processes results in new geographies of intervention, which develop in combinatorial and cumulative forms, producing further state capitalist modalities. This is a particularly potent dynamic in contemporary state capitalism, and its tendency to develop in a spiral that both shapes and is shaped by world capitalist development. The podcast of the discussion can be found here: Uneven and Combined (State) Capitalism