[NOTE: Basic questions about the shape of the world seems particularly unsettled these days. Simon During, one of the most ambitious and erudite of post-post-colonial thinkers, here interrogates the concept of the “global south,” which has been indispensable to those mapping the morally and politically actionable landscape, through Carl Schmitt, the status of Europe after Eurocentrism, and the way in which the political mobilization of indigenous peoples has decentered the causality for contemporary injustice, forcing us to consider the weight of local as well as global factors. An earlier version of this essay appeared as Simon During (2020) The Global South and internationalism: the geographies of post-subjectivity, Postcolonia
This essay attempts to move beyond colonial, postcolonial and globalization paradigms so as to spell out certain preconditions and consequences of the ‘global south’ concept. Within a ‘post-post-colonialist’ framework, the ‘global south’ has come to name those parts of the world which do not belong to the ‘West’ (or the ‘North’) and which were once thought of as, for instance, the colonies or as the Third World or as the periphery. My argument is that the ‘global south’ is a category whose context is different than that which gave meaning to those older terms: it belongs to a formally decolonized international order constituted by independent nation states rather than to the older colonial/imperial order. Thus it requires a different set of analytic tools than those inherited from academic postcolonialism. Indeed, from the social/cultural theory point of view, the global south paradigm provincializes colonialism as a historical event. This provincializing of colonialism triggers a set of opportunities and difficulties for analysis and memory which this essay briefly engages.
The “global south” is one of those concepts whose academic career has been beset by queries about its own meaning and extension. Broadly speaking, this questioning has occurred across two axes.
On the one side, the global south is thought to name a geographical region, which has indeed been mapped through the imposition of a “Brandt line,” dividing the globe’s hemispheres into north and south so as to approximate the developed/undeveloped dichotomy . But divided thus, states like the PRC and Singapore belong to the south so that, at least today, there seems relatively slight political, economic or historical rationale for the partition. Certainly it’s a division that makes no claim to the South having a unified cultural or historical identity even if it attempts to fix what, borrowing from Carl Schmitt, I will call a “distribution of earth”, that is, an inscribing of borders.
Schmitt’s concept becomes relevant as soon as we begin to think historically and theoretically about geopolitical partitions of the kind to which the global south belongs. For Schmitt, the first distributions of the earth form the basis of all post-nomadic societies, preceding formal law and recorded history. They go back to the first agrarian plantings which needed to be protected from predators, human and animal. From this point of view, all subsequent distributions of the earth—all borders whatsoever, including today’s national, transnational and international borders—were and continue to be embedded in work, appropriation and violence. But from this point of view the global south, whose drawing up under that name involved no immediate appropriation or violence, belongs to a weak distribution of the earth.
Along the other path, the global south denotes a project, an energy, whose other—whose enemy even— is the “global north”. In his The Poorer Nations: a possible history of the Global South, Vijay Prashad puts it like this: “The Global South is this: a world of protest, a whirlwind of creative activity…” and continues:
These protests have produced an opening that has no easily definable political direction. Some of them turn backwards, taking refuge in imagined unities of the past or in the divine realm. Others are merely defensive, seeking to survive in the present. And yet others find the present intolerable, and nudge us into the future .
My talk today inclines to Prashad’s path. I am trying to think here of the global south less as a place than as a product of a dispersed drive to resistance. As Prashad suggests, the drive which produces the idea of the global south may itself emerge from unjust, even intolerable, situations. For that reason too, as Prashad notes, the global south is partly structured around consoling myths, some of which refer to the past, others to the future.
Yet, for all that, the global south’s two drives are not quite separable. After all, the global south inescapably also refers to a real as well as an imaginary geography. Indeed I want to argue that the global south makes sense as a concept and force only within a particular geopolitical frame, which, ever since Jeremy Bentham invented the word, we have come to call “international” . The global south is a distribution of the earth inside internationalism’s legal and political structures. As such, it rests on the formalized relations between the sovereign nation-states into which almost all the globe’s landmass is today divided. Let me put my case simply: the category “global south” is a resistant function of that distribution of the earth we call international, and its politics, histories and temporalities need to be considered in that light.
When they come to think about the global south’s emergence and career as a concept, historians routinely mention events like the 1955 Bandung Conference; the 1961 Belgrade Non-aligned summit; the 1964 establishment of the G77 under the banner of “developing nations”; the New International Economic Order proposed by non-aligned and poorer states through the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development in the seventies; or, more definitively, the Brandt Report produced by the Independent Commission on International Development Issues in 1980 which established the current “north/south” division. One might also mention later events—the first BRICS meeting in New York in 2006 or the World Trade Organization’s recent (failed) DOHA round—as further instances of the global south’s performative articulation . We might think of its history, too, as tied to earlier events: most notably the League of Nations “mandate system”, the context in which the word “decolonization” first appeared, and in which, for the first time, an international institution attempted to introduce a formal process through which colonies and dependencies might become independent nation-states .
These events or meetings between representatives of nation-states within the framework of international institutions were based on two contestable, presuppositions.
The first was that old colonial/imperial order was heading towards obsolescence. This means that the global south belongs to an internationalism whose temporality supposes that colonialism will become a mere moment in the longer history of nations and peoples, a fading memory rather than a shaping force.
Modern internationalism’s second assumption was that independent nation-states each sheltered their own set of cultural/religious traditions, identities and values as covered by its own institutions, which were primarily legal, economic and neutral.
The global south’s internationalism accounts, I think, for some of its rather odd features: that it has no cultural identity as such, no meaningful geographical extension, no concrete relation to experience . Likewise, from this point of view, the global south concept, even thought of as a resistant drive, accepts modernity’s most important governmental and abstract apparatuses: the nation, the state, international law, the transnational market, global finance.
At the same time, the global south idea seems to be aligned to a certain faltering in the idea of modernization. We are all familiar with postcolonialist critiques of the eurocentricism concealed in the concept of modernity, but I am thinking here of a different context. In the sixties and seventies, liberal Western sociologists and economists produced a remarkable body of work explaining international inequity and poverty, and proposing systemic and transnational means for its overcoming. Barrington Moore’s Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Lord and Peasant in the Making of the Modern World (1966) and Gunnar Myrdal’s Asian Drama: an Inquiry into the Poverty of Nations (1968) are two famous examples. But in the era of the global south, books like those, preaching the doctrine of development from the centre to the periphery, cannot be written. All nations are now bearers of their own destinies, albeit within a international framework as divided (partly imaginatively) between north and south, and those destinies, although aligned to global markets, need not involve a commitment to cultural modernity or even to rationalized modernization at all .
It seems useful then to think about the history of the particular form of internationalism that underpins the global south idea, and to do so in terms that do not from the very beginning emphasise modernization and colonialism’s roles. Thinking in terms of a distribution of the earth that is not underpinned by modernization and colonialism, in particular, will also help us recognise that memories of colonialism in particular are becoming mythic in the era of the global south. To understand our intolerable present as intolerable only because of colonialism is to ascribe to one of those “imagined unities of the past,” against which Prashad warns us. One might almost say that, as an international formation beginning to turn its back on such myths, the global south is reaching towards a new temporality, one in which all the epochs that preceded full internationalism seem equally ephemeral, equally provincial, however much individual nations within it attach themselves to particular myths and/or resist modernity.
I can broach this way of thinking here only provisionally, but I will do so in broad reference to three disparate bodies of scholarship and polemic. The first is the post-post-colonialist work of public intellectuals like Vijay Prashad and, more especially, Pankaj Mishra whose recent revisionary books Age of Anger: a history of the present, and From the ruins of empire: the intellectual who made Asia have helped shape my thoughts . This work begins to develop a purposively non-eurocentric history driven by reasoned protest against colonialism’s legacies, but looking beyond them.
The second body of scholarship deals with global history . It also steadfastly refuses eurocentricism, but as it engages history’s longue durée, it makes sobering reading for those of us raised as engaged postcolonialists and whose thinking is limited by the postcolonial temporality I have just mentioned. By provincializing the modern period; by attempting to maintain academic neutrality; by telescoping historical time, global history of this kind may call into question received notions such as “empire is an essentially bad form of government,” or “violent settler expropriation of land were just European phenomena” or “non-European societies did not engage slavery and coerced labour.” Thinking across oceans and continents in the longue durée, anti- and post-colonialist certainties dissolve.
The third scholarly resource I have drawn on is the recent scholarship on internationalism itself: a scholarship which asks us to think of internationalism as a legal and economic structure with a deep history. Carl Schmitt’s history of international law and the distribution of the earth in The Nomos of the Earth is, of course, a primary source here. But I am thinking also of Quinn Slobodian’s recent, Globalists: the end of empire and the birth of neoliberalism as well as of work on international and public law by scholars like Nehal Bhuta and Martin Loughlin . Some of this scholarship is Eurocentric in ways that need to be guarded against, but its conceptual innovativeness and intellectual energy means that it remains essential to anyone trying to think about how the globe is divided today. Its primary use here is to help us understand how legal and economic policy played key roles in internationalism’s, and thus the global south’s, emergence. I would add one rider here, however: this body of scholarship needs to be brought into relation with more materialist histories of global modernity—I am thinking for instance of Sven Berkert’s Empire of Cotton—so as to avoid being swamped by merely intellectual-historical or merely theoretical presuppositions.
Schmitt’s analysis turns around two core oppositions: first that between land and sea, and the second between what he called imperium, that is the order of things in which governments rule over people, as against dominium, that is the order of things in which land and things become property.
For most of human history, anyone has been able to travel unimpeded across the sea. To put this a little more philosophically, the sea has existed as a Hobbesian state of nature, and when, from the fifteenth-century on, European states began to extend their territory across oceans, so-called “amity lines” were drawn up both to delineate particular states’ spheres of jurisdiction and to formalize rules of war . For Schmitt, that drawing-up process marks the beginning of international law. So, for him, internationalism emerges as a framework not so much on solid ground as in those Eurocentric rules of law which ordered rights on and across the ocean.
Historically from the fifteenth century on the sea’s freedoms and global amity lines helped enable various European empires to begin to triumph over the other empires that then existed, some originally richer and better organized than Europe’s: one can think, for instance, of the Qing, Ottoman, Muscovy, Mughal, Safavid, Ghana, Inca and Aztec empires. Europe’s rise to power was especially occasioned by one of the richest and most organized empire of them all— the Ming dynasty— abandoning seafaring around 1420 CE for complicated not yet fully understood reasons .
After Europe’s 1714 Treaty of Utrecht (which secured Britain, the Dutch Republic and Prussia’s victory over France), Britain was brought firmly into the continental balance of power, granted the rights to control the Spanish slave trade, and its navy awarded global oversight of the sea’s freedoms . From this point on state power was dependent on access to finance capital and explicitly interested in global trade. This is the context in what Beckert usefully calls “war capitalism”—a combination of violence, state-power, commodity production, trade, entrepreneurship and finance—emerged in global networks grounded first in the cotton business, and which, by 1800, already connected South Asia, East Asia, Europe, Africa and the America . But as industrialization and mass commodification proceeded, this regime of war capitalism was gradually replaced by an industrial capitalism (with its proletarian workforce, its machine-technologies and organized factories) that was committed (if only in theory) to free trade. Between them war and industrial capitalism would enable what is variously called the “Great Divergence”, the “European Miracle,” the “Great Enrichment” or the “Great Transformation,” as a result of which Europe’s productivity and wealth would leave the rest of the world behind .
So, after Utrecht, Europe’s global expansion was concentred on maintaining and extending capitalist networks and opportunities . Other motives for imperialism, for example, the desire to convert the “barbaric” heathen to Christianity, or to “civilize” non-Europeans into a full capacity for enlightened, republican or democratic subjectivity and citizenship, or just to allow the Europeans better opportunities to live prosperous lives in expropriated lands, were secondary to, or cover for, globally-orientated economic motives.
For Schmitt, however, the Treaty of Utrecht also formed modern internationalism’s historical condition of possibility. Modern internationalism? That is the structure which I have begun to sketch in which, on the side of imperium, all territories in the world are governed by nation-states, each sovereign and legally equal to the other, each with its own cultural heritages and ritual traditions, while on the side of dominium, property and capital are protected by international bodies determined to extend and secure property rights and free trade access (as well as, in some articulations, labour mobility) across national borders . This is the international order we know today, in which, in the putative interest of the global economy, sovereign nation states concede power and control to bodies and treaties like the WTO, GATT, NAFTA, the World Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Today it forms liberal capitalism’s carapace.
Modern internationalism came into its own in the post-Versailles era of the League of Nations as formal European imperialism lost energy. Nurtured in free-trade imperialism, it owed much, too, to concepts of “world federation” or “imperial federation” that, as Duncan Bell has reminded us, emerged among liberal imperialists in the nineteenth century’s second half even if it also has intellectual roots in Kant’s “Perpetual Peace” and “Cosmopolitan” essays .
But, more significantly, this mode of internationalism was the first avowedly neoliberal project, and, arguably, it was the neoliberals who did most to shape it. To state this argument simply in the terms that Quinn Slobodian has articulated: when formal imperialism waned, neoliberalism (as we know it) emerged in its wake with the aim of separating the orders of dominium and imperium, economy and nation-state, so as to secure a post-imperial international legal order favourable to free movement of commodities and finance as well as to protect property rights around the world. Internationalism was required to secure such a legal order because, so neoliberals feared, democratic and independent nation states might put sectional or social interests against long-term global economic interests, as they viewed them. As a counter-nationalist movement, neoliberalism, we might say more generally, attempted, ultimately successfully, to universalize liberal capitalism against the efforts of post-imperial more or less democratic nation-states.
This was the situation too in which (as we can say looking back) the global south first emerged. The global south can be said to begin when poorer, less industrialized nation-states, most victims of the era of war-capitalism and imperialism, most situated in industrialized liberal capitalism’s “periphery”, grouped together in the new international order for their own economic interest. They sometimes did so, as Slobodian reminds us, by joining the neoliberal critique of first-world trade barriers, but more often and more definitively by asserting Keynesian policies of import substitution and state-supported industrialization against open markets and free trade.
Admittedly the global south’s emergence also belongs to other histories. On the one side it drew on localized identity-movements that had already appeared alongside but against the modern international era—pan-Asianism, pan-Islamism, pan-Arabism and pan-Africanism. Looking back one can say that these movements failed, or were marginalized, just because their primary focus was precisely not on economics and production but on culture and identity. And, on the other side, it drew an alternative form of internationalism—communist internationalism whose primary purpose was, as Marx put it in his instructions to the Delegates of the 1866 Geneva Convention of the so-called First International, to “make the workmen of different countries not only feel but act as brethren and comrades in the army of emancipation.” But, after Stalin took control of the Soviet Union around 1927, communist internationalist hope of that kind belonged just to nostalgia.
Once we concede that the ideal of the global south is inseparable from modern internationalism and liberal capitalism’s global triumph over war capitalism, we can also recognise that today’s internationalism is divided in other terms than that distribution of the earth which separates south from north. Indeed it may be that, today, concentrating on that politico-geographical division obscures more important breaks and tensions in the global order.
Indeed current internationalism’s primary divisions are no longer geographical. As Pankaj Mishra’s recent books contend (and I am thinking especially of Age of Anger), the resistant passions and protests that mark the current global order cannot be confined to any particular geographical configuration or to any localizable cultural, ethnic or religious identity or set of identities at all. This ebbing of geography’s causal agency was foreseen by Schmitt. In Nomos of the Earth, he argued that “internationalism” has long ago ceased to be able to be understood as what he called a “concrete order” . It may have begun in negotiations between particular European powers who shared cultural and political norms and also an understanding of the history in which imperial borders could be negotiated. But in the early twentieth century, as institutionalized European colonialism began to be abandoned, as the sea/land dichotomy ceased to control geo-politics, and as efforts to separate the nation-state from the international economic order were formalised, the domain of the international became abstract and autonomous, detached from lived historical relations and shared values. As such it began to hatch rebellions and resistances which cannot be understood through the lens of nationality and imperialism. Which have to be understood, in fact, first in terms of trade, markets and property and only then in terms of government, culture and politics.
I don’t have time to explore this argument’s implications. Let me finish just by returning to our theme of temporality, and to Mishra’s Age of Anger. Mishra argues, as I am doing here, that from a global perspective, today’s political resistances or protests wherever they happen, need to be understood in the context of capitalism’s global triumph. Let me put the familiar argument this way: today international capitalism, as it unevenly moves past industrialism (as so-called “postindustrial” capitalism), may at last be redistributing capital and income from north to south, but in the process it is also extending both new cultural forms of inequity/precarity along with secular and “liberal” norms and subjectivities . And just because it is global/international, this process cannot be understood as a particular distribution of the earth.
Mishra is interested in what this fading of geography’s agential powers means for historiography. He appears to be fairly neutral in regards to the two narratives that in our post-post-colonial moment divide thought about the global past . These are: on the one side, a story in which Europe ruthlessly and cruelly expropriated the fruits of the earth from peoples of different colour and culture and has never fully accounted for that; on the other a story which points to how in mutating from war capitalism to globalized and internationalized liberal (now postindustrial) capitalism: famines have (at least for the time being) disappeared from most of the earth, life expectancies are today generally higher around the world than ever before, productivity has increased exponentially; leisure has vastly expanded for billions of people; cultural experiences are almost universally more various; communication networks have defeated distance…etc, etc .
As a post-post-colonialist who implicitly accepts the provincializing of colonial history, Mishra seems to be fairly neutral in regard to the quarrel between these two perspectives. What marks him out is that he argues that, as a result of capitalism’s triumph, the historical frame of contemporary resistance movements, including terrorist resistance movements in East and West Asia and Africa, is European. This is not just because Europe is where capitalism, internationalism, secularization were originally established or, at least, first became symbiotically connected. It is not because Europe is the home of the most powerful recent imperialism. Rather it is because Europe was where resistance to modernity happened first: it was where local traditions, culture, and religion, were first weaponized against capitalism. Or to put this slightly differently: where resistance movements against modern progress emerged among those whose attachments and possibilities were felt to be jeopardized by rationalization and modernization, which at the material level means jeopardized by capitalism and its various governmentalities.
Thus, for Mishra, early counter-progressivist thinkers in this mode, among whom he includes Rousseau and, in particular, the German romantics, stand at the origin of the genealogy to which even al-Quaeda or Modi’s BJP party belong today . In this genealogy then, traditionalist rebellions against Western imperialism like, say, the 1857 Indian Mutiny, the 1860s Maori wars, the 1880s Mahdist revolt in Sudan or China’s 1900 Boxer Rebellion are intertwined with, say, de Maistre’s radically conservative rejection of the French revolution or the Action Française’s early twentieth century uprising against both Jean Jaurès and Léon Blum’s modernizing socialism or indeed, on the other political side, the kind of nostalgic organicism that haunts William Morris’s communism.
Mishra’s argument seems too global to me. Reflecting capitalism and internationalism’s world-historical triumph, it too quickly universalizes the past along European lines.
How to avoid this problem ? I’d suggest that the new global history is valuable here just because, in provincializing all events, structures, networks and communities whatsoever, it makes it harder for us to use contemporary universal capitalism and precarity as a hermeneutic for understanding either the past or the present.
So let me end this talk just by mentioning two recent violent events. First, the Punjab insurgency of the seventies and eighties in which Sikh militants engaged in terrorist acts and dreamt of an independent Sikh theocratic state, Kalistan, an insurgency which may have helped inspire Arabian Sunni Islam’s ISIS, and which might thus seem to belong at the heart of Mishra’s counter-modern genealogy of resistance. Second, the so-called Rwanda genocide, facts about which are by no means clear, but in which up to a million people died, most Tutsi, but many also Hutu and Twa, the latter the region’s indigenous people, the Tutsi and Hutu being in effect long-standing settler colonialists. I mention these events because, although significant irruptions of violence, they do not fit Mishra’s “age of anger” paradigm. They were not rebellions against the precarity and inequity that attach to capitalist modernity. Despite widely accepted arguments that responsibility for current wars in decolonized states can almost always be sheeted home to the colonialist moment, I am persuaded that in these instances the causes were basically local and only partly shaped by anything proceeding from the West .
Events like these are important when we come to think about the global south’s temporality. The global south may itself belong to the time of capitalism and internationalism’s triumph, it may have formed in what we might call compliant resistance to that triumph, its radical wills may now be best understood in terms of larger battles between capitalism’s precariat and elites, but actual events in its region—to the degree that it is a region—often still have local histories and local timings. When they do, they can show us that the global south knows no single temporality despite its belonging to the internationalist era ushered in after 1919 whose temporality is, as we might say, evenly modern.
1. This essay was originally a talk for the Universität Tübingen’s Centre for Global South Studies, and I thank Russ Pavlov-West for getting me involved.
2. On the Brandt line and its context, see Miguel S Wionczek, “The Brandt report,” Third World Quarterly, 3:1 (1981), 104-118.
3.Vijay Prashad, The Poorer Nations: a possible history of the Global South, London: Verso 2012, p. 16.
4. See Hidemi Suganami, “A note on the origin of the word ‘International,’” British Journal of International Studies 4/3 (1978), p. 226.
5. See Russell West-Pavlov, “Towards the Global South: Concept or Chimera, Paradigm or Panacea?” in The Global South and Literature, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2018, pps. 4-28. My argument that the ‘global south’ is in the end an IR concept is not meant to relegate important analyses like Raewyn Connell’s Southern Theory (2007), a book which uses the ‘south’ concept to push back on the notion that sociological theory was developed solely in the then dominant Western countries. Connell uses ‘south’ as a category in part because it allows her to include Australia (where she herself is based) as a ‘periphery’ country.
6. For the mandate system and its imperial precursors, see Mark Mazower, No Enchanted Palace, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2009. See also Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: a Study in Nineteenth-Century British Liberal Thought, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 1999, pp. 22-45.
7. There have been, however, some attempts to imagine a ‘global south’ culture as such. That seems to be part of what is at stake in J.M. Coetzee’s trilogy, The Childhood of Jesus, The Schooldays of Jesus and The Death of Jesus. See also Y.P. Zhang, ‘The Emergence of the Global South Novel: Red Sorhum, Présence Africaine, and the Third Novelists’ International,” Novel 52/3 (2019): 347-368.
8. The use of the world “rationalized” here is an oblique reference to Schumpeter’s argument that capitalism produces and requires particular logical-pragmatic ways of thinking which he called “rational” and which form the basis of modern science and technology. See Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, New York: Harper Bros 1950, pp. 122 ff.
9. See, e.g. John Darwin, After Tamerlane: the global history of empire, London: Allen Lane 2007; Sebastian Conrad, Globalgeschichte. Eine Einführung, München: C. H. Beck 2013; Jürgen Osterhammel, Der Wandlung der Welt: Eine Geschichte des 19. Jahrhunderts, München: C. H. Beck 2009 and James Belich et. al. (eds), The Prospect of Global History, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2016.
10. See Martin Loughlin, Foundations of Modern Law, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2010, and Nehal Bhuta, “The Mystery of the State: State-Concept, State-Theory and State-Making in Carl Schmitt and Michael Oakeshott,” in David Dyzenhaus and Thomas Poole, eds, Law, Liberty and the State: Oakeshott, Hayek and Schmitt on the Rule of Law, Cambridge University Press, 2015.
11. Martin Loughlin, “Nomos” in eds. David Dyzenhaus and Thomas Poole, Law, Liberty and State: Oakeshott, Hayek and Schmitt on the Rule of Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015, p. 79.
12. John Darwin, After Tamerlane: the Global History of Empire since 1405, London: Allen Lane 2007, p. 62. This an argument especially associated with Jared Diamond’s Guns, Diamonds and Steel: the Fates of Human Societies, New York: W.W. Norton 1997.
13. Brendan Simms, Europe: the struggle for supremacy 1453 to the Present, London: Allen Lane 2013, pp. 76-84. Simms, however, supposes the Treaty was less decisive for a new balance of power than do most historians.
14. Sven Beckert, The Empire of Cotton: a new history of global capitalism, London: Penguin 2015, pps. 28-55. For a more general “theoretical” account of the relation between war and capitalism, see Éric Alliez and Maurizio Lazzarato, Wars and Capital, trans. Ames Hodges. New York: semiotext(e) 2016.
15. For the “Great Divergence” see Kenneth Pomeranz, The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the Making of the Modern World Economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2000. For the “European Miracle” see Eric Jones, The European Miracle: Environments, Economics and Geopolitics in the History of Europe and Asia, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 1981. The “Great Enrichment” is a term used throughout Deirdre McCloskey’s trilogy on the emergence of capitalism beginning with Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an age of commerce, Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2006. And the “Great Transformation” is Karl Polanyi’s famous term in The Great Transformation, New York: Farrar and Rinehart 1944.
16. Beckert, The Empire of Cotton: a new history of global capitalism, p.89 ff offers a strong account of this.
17. As Schumpeter made clear in Imperialism and Social Classes, free trade became ideologically hegemonic in Britain only in the immediate post-Napoleonic period. Joseph Schumpter, Imperialism and Social Classes, Cleveland, OH: Meridian Books, 1955, pps. 7-9. Although it was the official ideology of 19th century liberals, free trade could be conveniently forgotten about whenever it hurt Britain’s interests, e.g. in the wake of US civil war which threatened the cotton industry.
18. This is a theme throughout of Duncan Bell’s Reordering the World: Essays on Liberalism and Empire, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2016.
19. Karl Marx, The First International and After, ed. David Fernbach. London: Penguin Books 1974: p. 86.
20. See Martin Loughlin, “Nomos,” in David Dyzenhaus and Thomas Poole (eds.), Law, Liberty and the State: Oakeshott, Hayek and Schmitt on the Rule of Law, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2015, pps. 74-76.
21. Perhaps the best way to think about this is through statistics like this: the percentage of the world’s population living on $1 a day (in PPP adjusted 2000 dollars) declined from 26.8% in 1970 to 5.4% in 2006. See Xavier Sala-i-Martin and Maxim Pindovskey, “Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income,” VOX 22 January 2010 http://www.voxeu.org/article/parametric-estimations-world-distribution-income. For a more general argument for “convergence” between North and South, see Michael Spence, The Next Convergence: the future of economic growth in a multispeed world, New York: Macmillan 2012.
22. This division also involves opposing accounts of capitalism’s history. One school of (whitewashing) economic historians argues that what lies behind the emergence of capitalism in the West and thus its rise to comparative prosperity are, not a la Schumpter for instance, the popularization of rationality, but rather a particular set of ideas, cultural norms and virtues. See, for instance, Deirdre McCloskey’s trilogy and John Mokyr’s A Culture of Growth: the origins of modern economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2016. This school’s basic claim is that material factors cannot by themselves account for the Great Transformation/Divergence: ethical and institutional factors are involved. Another school insists on the importance of violence and slavery for capitalism’s development. See, e.g. Edward E. Baptist, The Half has Never Been Told: Slavery and Making of Modern Capitalism, New York: Basic Books 2014.
23. The statistics on life expectancy are complex and uneven: over the past couple of centuries there have been periods of sudden increase and decline in particular places. See Angus Deaton, The Great Escape: Health, Wealth and the Origins of Inequality, Princeton: University of Princeton Press 2013, and the classic contirubion to this field, Robert William Fogel’s The Escape from Hunger and Premature Death, 1700-2100: Europe, America and the Third World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2004. As to famines: Africa remains prone to famines and the twentieth century also knew major famines in China, Russia, South Asia, the Netherlands (during German occupation in 1944-5), Poland (in the Warsaw Ghetto) and North Korea. For a strong defence of colonialism’s continuing importance to cultural and political forms see Stuart Hall, Familiar Stranger: a Life between two Islands, London: Penguin 2017, p. 196ff.
24. For accounts of German romantic nationalism which substantiate Mishra’s argument, see Karl Mannheim, Conservatism: a contribution to the sociology of knowledge, London: Routledge 1986, and Liah Greenfield, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 1992, pp. 322-352.
25. It is worth noting that Mishra’s argument would lead one to conclude that reformist responses to today’s global, neoliberalised capitalism have themselves to be internationalist. And in this context it seems clear that Pierre Bourdieu was right to speak of the left’s “vital need for internationalism” almost a generation ago. See Firing Back: Against the Tyranny of the Market 2, trans. Loïc Wacquant. New York: The New Press 1999, p. 63.
26. Probably the most influential analysis of the colonialist roots of postcolonial struggles in this part of Africa has been Mahmood Mamdani in both his Citizen and Subject: Contemporary Africa and the Legacy of Late Colonialism, Princeton: Princeton University Press 1996, and When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton: Princeton University Press 2001, books from which I have learnt much.