Prosperity and War in the Modern Age

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

* Book: Long Cycles: Prosperity and War in the Modern Age. By Joshua S Goldstein.



1. From the author:

"World history is more than the history of one generation. World politics today grows out of many centuries of evolution and is rooted directly in the development of the Eurocentric world system over the past five centuries. This book examines the dynamics of that integrated world system of politics and economics, centered in Europe, as it developed between the sixteenth and twentieth centuries. The world system, as a useful and appropriate concept with relevance to contemporary world politics, is the first of four themes that intersect in the book. The second theme is the close connection between economics and politics at the international level. A third theme is the concept of social cycles, for which the book seeks to develop an appropriate definition and framework drawing on both quantitative and qualitative approaches. And the fourth theme is the interplay of revolutionary, liberal, and conservative world views that shape the ways in which different research schools see the first three themes (the world system, political economy, and social cycles)."

(chapter 1, page 1)

2. From the Wikipedia:

"In 1988, Joshua S Goldstein advanced the concept of the political midlife crisis in his book on "long cycle theory", Long Cycles: Prosperity and War in the Modern Age, which offers four examples of the process:

  • The British Empire and the Crimean War (1853–1856): A century after Britain's successful launch of the Industrial Revolution, and following the subsequent British railway boom of 1815–1853, Britain, in the Crimean War, attacked the Russian Empire, which was perceived as a threat to British India and to eastern Mediterranean trade routes to India. The Crimean War highlighted the poor state of the British Army, which were then addressed, and Britain concentrated on colonial expansion and took no further part in European wars until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.
  • The German Empire and World War I (1914–1918): Under Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, Germany had been unified between 1864 and 1871, and then had seen 40 years' rapid industrial, military, and colonial expansion. In 1914 the Schlieffen Plan for conquering France in eight weeks was to have been followed by the subjugation of the Russian Empire, leaving Germany the master of Mitteleuropa (Central Europe). In the event, France, Britain, Russia, and the United States fought Germany to a standstill, to defeat, and to a humiliating peace settlement at Versailles (1919) and the establishment of Germany's unstable Weimar Republic (1919–33), in a prelude to World War II.
  • The Soviet Union and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962): The Soviet Union had industrialised rapidly under Joseph Stalin and, following World War II, had become a rival nuclear superpower to the United States. In 1962 Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, intent on securing strategic parity with the United States, covertly, with the support of Fidel Castro, shipped nuclear missiles to Castro's Cuba, 70 miles from the US state of Florida. US President John F. Kennedy blockaded (the term "quarantined" being used because a blockade is an act of war), the island of Cuba and negotiated the Soviet missiles' removal from Cuba (in exchange for the subsequent removal of US missiles from Turkey).[vague]
  • The United States and the Vietnam War (1955–1975): During World War II and the ensuing postwar period, the United States had greatly expanded its military capacities and industries. After France, supported financially by the US, had been defeated in Vietnam in 1954 and that country had been temporarily split into North and South Vietnam under the 1954 Geneva Accords; and when war had broken out between the North and South following South Vietnam President Ngo Dinh Diem's refusal to permit all-Vietnam elections in 1956 as stipulated in the Geneva Accords, the ideologically anti-communist United States supported South Vietnam with materiel in a Cold War proxy war and by degrees allowed itself to be drawn into South Vietnam's losing struggle against communist North Vietnam and the Viet Cong acting in South Vietnam. Ultimately, following the defeat of South Vietnam and the United States, the US's governing belief that South Vietnam's defeat would result in all of remaining Mainland Southeast Asia "going communist" (as proclaimed by the US's "domino theory"), proved erroneous."



Joshua Goldstein:

"The book is organized in three parts.

Part One reviews the past work both theoretical and empirical on long economic and political cycles.

Part Two presents a quantitative analysis of long waves, using historical time-series data, and develops a rough theoretical model of the long wave.

Part Three discusses the hegemony cycle and its historical connection with the long wave and draws out some implications of long cycles for the present and future.

Part One: Debates

"Part One reviews, organizes, and synthesizes the past work on long cycles, a task, complicated by the nature of the existing literature. The past work is scattered among various disciplines, approaches, and languages and has never been adequately cataloged, reviewed, or integrated into one framework. In particular, there has been a divide between the economic and political disciplinary territories, so that instead of one debate on long political-economic cycles, there have been two debates one on economic cycles and one on political cycles. Within each of these, there have been sub debates, the structures of which I will investigate.

In the economic long wave debate, although many scholars have examined long waves over the past sixty years, little agreement has been reached on the central questions:

1. Do long waves of approximately fifty years' duration exist in the economies of the core countries, synchronized internationally and across different economic variables?

2. If so, what causes these long waves, and which variables are central to them?

Part One reviews the past empirical evidence for long waves and concludes by codifying the alternative hypotheses put forward by different scholars in the debate.

Part Two: Analysis

Part Two uses empirical analysis to address several outstanding questions in the long wave debate:

1 .Can long waves be found in historical data?

2. In which economic or political variables can they be found?

3. Are they synchronous across countries?

4. How early in history can they be found?

5. Do wars play a role in economic long waves? What is the connection between the economic and political aspects of long waves?

Part Three: History

Part Three turns from quantitative analysis to qualitative interpretation in elucidating a structural history of the core of the world system. Structural history emphasizes long-term social processes rather than day-to-day events, people, and narratives. This part of the book builds a reinterpretation of European political-economic history around hegemony cycles and long waves."



The world system as a meaningful unit of analysis]

Joshua Goldstein:

* "A world level of analysis is distinct from an international one.

The international level consists of the interactions of separable units sovereign nation-states while the world level consists of a single, holistic system whose parts are mutually constitutive rather than separable.2 The most important features of the world system for this book are its political and economic structure and dynamics. The world system is characterized economically by the unequal geographical division of labor between the core (secondary producers of manufactured goods) and the periphery (primary producers of raw materials). Politically the system is characterized by the systematic use of violence both to maintain and to change the power relationships in the system. Those power relationships include both the dominance of the core over the periphery and the struggle for dominance of one political unit over others within the core (hegemony). The pattern of regional division of labor between primary and secondary producers—along with the violently enforced dominance of the core over the periphery—traces back to early societies and empires. In the ancient city-state on a river, peasants upstream produced food, which was shipped downstream to the city at low cost using the river as an energy source. The city in turn shipped (lighter-weight) weapons and luxury goods upstream to the local warriors who suppressed the peasants. In later, larger, Mediterranean empires, a similar pattern occurred, with oar-driven slave boats bringing food and raw materials to the metropolis from the peripheral regions along the coast. With the advent of the sailing ship in fifteenth-century Portugal, a few individuals could move a large cargo efficiently almost anywhere in the world, using the wind as their energy source and the ocean as their medium. This, with the addition of shipborne cannons,allowed the Europeans to dominate trade globally and laid the basis for a truly world system of politics and economics."

(Long Cycles, page 2)

Great Power Wars

Joshua Goldstein:

"On the political level, the core experiences structural shifts over time, from greater hegemony (a hierarchical structure in which one nation is firmly on top) toward greater competition (a flatter hierarchy in which nations are vying for position). Ultimately, the position of nations in such a system has been decided by resort to war. In studying wars among the core countries, I rely on Levy's (1983a) quantitative data set on wars in the "great power system" since 1495 as well as his definitions of countries that belonged to that system (a membership that changes over time). "Great power wars" (wars between two or more great powers) have occurred sixty-four times between 1495 and 1975 according to Levy's count. These sixty-four wars are particularly important in this study. Although no country has yet exerted complete control in the sense of an embracing empire, a few countries have at times gained ascendancy within the core. At other times the structure of the core has not centered so strongly on one country, being more multipolar and competitive. A hegemonic power is a core state that commands an unrivaled position of economic and military superiority among the core states and is thus able largely to shape the operation of the international system. The position of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century, of Great Britain in the nineteenth century, and of the United States in the mid-twentieth century are commonly cited as such cases. Other countries have made concerted' drives for world dominance but have failed (for example, Napoleon's France and Hitler's Germany). The economic and political processes of the core are closely intertwined. There isa strong historical connection between economic long waves and bouts of severe14 great power wars. And the struggle for hegemony is as much an economic asa political phenomenon. The strongest economic units can support the most powerful political and military capabilities and hence gain position in the world order. Conversely, political and military position are used to further a country's economic enrichment."

(Long Cycles, page 5)

The Political Interpretations of Cycles: Revolutionary, Liberal, and Conservative World Views

Joshua Goldstein:

"The existing literature on long cycles consists of disconnected fragments of theory and evidence, with no consensus on what a long cycle is, how to measure and identify it, or how to account for it theoretically. The book's first task is to make sense of these past studies, to compare them, and to account for differences and similarities among them. As an ordering principal for that review, I distinguish three world views revolutionary, liberal, and conservative that shape different perspectives, approaches, and epistemologies. They are the lenses through which people see the world and the frameworks within which theories of that world are built. The three world views shape the outlines of the major theoretical traditions in the long wave debate and in the war/hegemony debate. The different research schools rooted in each world view have different vocabularies, theoretical frameworks, methodologies, and results and communication among them is problematical. I will try to interpret between them without being wedded to one particular school or world view. The three world views are only approximate ideal types. They should be seen not as a rigid framework but as a tool for understanding the long cycle field and its development from a philosophy of science perspective. I will not try to give a definitive or full explanation of each world view. Theoretical and empirical work from six research schools (three on long waves and three on hegemony cycles) will be drawn on in an effort to find both agreements and differences between them. Despite the major differences among the theories of different research schools, many areas of convergence can be found.

Each of the three world views represents an angle from which this reality is seen conditioning the thematic questions asked, the types of data examined, the methodologies used, the theories postulated, and the conclusions drawn. The conservative approach centers thematically on the "preservation of the established order" and is "opposed to change or innovation."

  • Conservative theories tend to portray the world as a relatively timeless and unchanging structure and hence see cycles as repetition — a regular repetition of the same rhythms over time. The liberal approach centers thematically on the evolution of the existing order. Continual progress, brought about through human innovation, leads to greater freedom (material and political) for the individual.
  • Liberal theories portray cycles as upward spirals leading to higher stages of social evolution.
  • The revolutionary approach centers thematically on the overthrow of the existing order and on its internal contradictions, which inevitably produce crises. Cycles are seen as dialectical movements the product of internal contradictions that drive the system in which they are found toward its own negation and transformation."