By Alex Anievas, Kerem Nisancioglu
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38 This is a debilitating problem, since it leaves any theorisation of the transition to capitalism largely indeterminate. As Eric Mielants suggests: The concept of an ‘age of transition’ can be interpreted as requiring the operation of at least two coexisting modes of production, and the eventual domination of one over the other. If we want to analyse the rise of one mode of production and the demise of another, at some point we have to acknowledge them as working together. 39 Similarly, for C.
161 It should be clear from the outset then, and in contrast to Vivek Chibber’s recent broadside against Subaltern Studies,162 that the likes of Chatterjee, Chakrabarty and Ranajit Guha do not deny capital’s universalising tendency. Indeed nowhere do each of the Subaltern Studies scholars castigated by Chibber deny that capital demonstrates a real tendency toward universalisation. Rather, their claim is an altogether different one: that capital’s universalising tendency is necessarily limited, always and everywhere partial – all points made by Chibber himself.
137 History is, of course, a messy, complex affair, full of accidents, contingencies and the untheorisable. A grand theory of everything is unlikely. Problems emerge, however, when the central objects of our theories (the origins of capitalism, the modern states system, intersocietal relations and so on) are considered pure contingencies in relation to the abstractions we seek to explain them with. 138 Might not the same be said of Political Marxists’ conceptualisation of the relationship between ‘the international’ and capitalism?
How the west came to rule : the geopolitical origins of capitalism by Alex Anievas, Kerem Nisancioglu