Lineages of Empire

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* Article: Lineages of Empire. G. Arrighi. Historical Materialism, volume 10:3 (3–16), 2002



From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, 2004:

This is a critial review of Empire. Negri claims that Empire is smooth, and has overcome the North-South (core-periphery divide), and that Empire has created new freedoms, such as migration, eagerly taken up by the multitudes. The 3rd world is now in the first, and vice-versa. But Arrighi says Negri uses a lot of flawed evidence.

   - The distance between the rich North and the poor South has not decreased! For example, the South represented 4.5% of per capita income in 1960, and 4.6% in 1999. 
   - 19th cy. migration were ever larger
   - there is still relatively little capital flowing to poor countries

Thus, capital and labor are far from the mobility that they claim. Arrighi also stresses that the global integration of capitalism after WWII, was a result of the success of the labor movement (both East and West), but that the workers have shown to value specific identities, demanding special treatment, and thus, Negri's theory of the multitude appears idealistic.

Arrighi's own work on cycles (in the long 20th cy.) has show that the transition from city state to nation state took two centuries, during which both protagonists co-existed. Intermediary entities, such as the United Provinces, exhibited elements of both. Thus today's transition will take at least one century. He also stresses the importance of Asia (between 1960 and 1999, there has been a major relocation of manufacturing activities and world market shares to East Asia, from 13 to 25.9%)