World Systems Theory and Theory of Social Quality as Proposal for a Methodology for Rethinking a World in Crisis and Transformation

 

(Prelimanry version – an updated version will be published in due time as working paper at http://www.wvfs.at)

World Systems Theory and Theory of Social Quality as Proposal for a Methodology for Rethinking a World in Crisis and Transformation1

Abstract

Two fundamental problems are standing at the outset of my considerations:

  • The current crisis is often seen as the deepest, longest lasting, fundamental etc.; however: it is not clearly spelt out that we are dealing with a truly systematic crisis.

comme une crise du système économique et également du système anthroponomique, c’est-à-dire du système qui concerne toute la vie humaine en dehors de l’économie, avec ses quatre moments : le parental, le travail, le politique et l’informationnel (la connaissance, la culture). (Ivorra, Pierre, 2013: Crise de civilisation, crise de 2008-2010 et solutions systémiques; in: Économie&Politique. Revue marxiste d’économie; 708-709, Juillet-Août 2013; 39-39; here: 39; see also Boccara, Paul, 2010: La crise systémique : une crise de civilisation. Ses perspectives pour avancer vers une nouvelle civilisation, note de la Fondation Gabriel Péri)

  • Globalisation is a nearly permanent point of reference in contemporary debates, however it is not clearly spelled out as something that is characterised by two very different dimensions which are actually to some extent contradicting each other: the one can be captured by an increasing density of relations between nation states and regions – the character of these may be very different; the other is a matter of the factually increased relational interdependence – and factual also means that the knowledge of this relational interdependence becomes a material force very much like theory that captures the masses.

The challenge is to find a proper analytical framework that allows taking both, the systemic character of the crisis and the globalisation of the current challenges in the second understanding of globalisation serious. Bringing World Systems Theory and Social Quality Theory together, provides a promising framework for finding an answer to present challenges.

****

Looking at the current crisis in the said understanding of globalisation, it is quickly getting obvious that highlighting its global character is not least characterised by the fact that there is no escape possible: where previously economic development and crisis had been characterised by apparent opportunities to ‘externalise’ unwanted moments in space and/or time, this is not possible anymore. Though there may be in some respect still escapes, this is more the exception than the rule. However, the reception of the crisis remains caught in national thinking – we may speak of methodological nationalism in the sense Maurice Roche coined the term, contending that analysis and politics

are designed on a basis which appears to take the nation state, its sovereignty and the powers of its government utterly for granted.
(Roche, Maurice, 1992: Rethinking Citizenship: Welfare, Ideology, and Change in Modern Society; Polity: 184 f.; quoted in Gore, Charles, 1996: Methodological Nationalism and the Misunderstanding of East Asian Industrialisation; in: European Journal of Development Research; 8, 77-122 [1 June 1996]: 80 doi: 10.1080/09578819608426654)

Gore himself goes further, pointing out

Explanations which are methodologically nationalist try to explain economic and social trends in countries, basically reference to facts about the countries themselves. The focal object of understanding is often described as the economic or social ‘performance’ of a country, usually in comparison with other countries. Specific performances are typically ‘explained’ by dividing causal factors into ‘internal’ and ‘external’ factors, and then attributing what is happening in a single country or set of countries within a region of the world … mainly to internal factors.
(Gore, op.cit.: 80 f.)

This is a rather fundamental moment that is in some way reaching further than aggressive nationalism and its internationalisation as imperialism. It is accepting theoretically and in ultimate terms of policy-making nationality as last reason. Such approach of methodological nationalism actually reduces all debates on globalisation on a line of international relationships, not allowing a cosmopolitical stance. This contradicts in a fundamental way the developmental stage of the means of production. It means also that it takes a wrong emphasis on political processes and structures, neglecting the fundamental issue of political economy. The nation state had been seedbed and result of the emergence of capitalism. With capitalism reaching obviously its structural limits, we have to open the view also in terms of the framework of regulation – and we all know that this is already in different ways taking part: World Bank, IMF, UN etc. are just few examples – showing the general need and also the limitations arising in the current situation.

Moving this argument further we face in very general terms following, in part contradicting, patterns.

(i) Local reference of production (with its four elements: manufacturing, consumption, distribution and exchange) does not play decisive role. Importantly this includes the increasing relevance of locality: the number of small traders, local consumption is growing hand in hand with the number and spread of large corporations.

(ii) Based on different mechanisms, we find in terms of the mode of production developments pointing in opposite directions: large scale, automated production is standing side by side with an again increasing small-scale, craftsmanship guided work.

(iii) Notwithstanding the fact of global dominance of the capitalist mode of production, we see that the always prevailing non-capitalist elements are currently regaining relevance also in quantitative terms:

  • the increasing meaning of work disfavouring labour
  • increasing meaning of direct exchange and even of use-value exchange, not replacing market-mediated forms but complementing them in certain areas that go beyond the “neighbourly help” that is already well known as epiphenomenon of capitalism
  • increasing meaning of ‘direct provisions’ both as direct provision of statutory services and as ‘charitable welfare’
  • also in the political sphere we find increasingly signs of a shift beyond the patterns of democratic-national policy production; this is not primarily about the increasing meaning of supra- and international bodies – more important is the loss of demos as at least formally acknowledged point of reference and actor.[2]

(iv) With this we find another contradictory pattern, namely the fact that on the one hand globally economics takes completely over, penetrating all pores of life, however meaning at the same time that any development, and with this any crisis, is also a systemic crisis, already defined as

une crise du système économique et également du système anthroponomique, c’est-à-dire du système qui concerne toute la vie humaine en dehors de l’économie, avec ses quatre moments : le parental, le travail, le politique et l’informationnel (la connaissance, la culture).
(Ivorra, Pierre, 2013: Crise de civilisation, crise de 2008-2010 et solutions systémiques; in: Économie&Politique. Revue marxiste d’économie; 708-709, Juillet-Août 2013; 39-39; here: 39; see also Boccara, Paul, 2010: La crise systémique : une crise de civilisation. Ses perspectives pour avancer vers une nouvelle civilisation, note de la Fondation Gabriel Péri)

****

Not only the crisis points on instability – perhaps even more a proof of systemic instability is the persistence of systemic alternatives. Admittedly, the ‘great revolution’ has been lost – it is not the occasion to fully discuss the details. A short note, however, is required: In my understanding one of the major problems has not been a ‘political failure’; nor do we have to blame primarily the ‘economic strength of the West’. Instead I think we have to investigate that this search for alternatives had not been extended on the entire and complex mode of production with all the different aspects of manufacturing, consumption, distribution and exchange as relationship of elementary forms of society building.

This brings me to the two main analytical dimensions that I want to suggest for both, analysis and developing a perspective for future politics and policies.

World Systems Theory

The positive side of World Systems Theory is that it provides a framework that allows thorough consideration of the complexity of relationships between states and regions, considering these not least as power relationships going far beyond recently increased and accelerated ‘trade relations’. And of utmost importance is the fact that World Systems Theory draws our attention to hegemonic relations: capitalism as dominant system, though structuring dominance, ruling and governance in highly complex and differentiated ways. Important is not least the fact that hegemony also means the differentiated involvement of those who are object of processes of ruling into the systems of ruling (governance).

Though the debates on this are in detail varied, it may be said that the differentiated view on the actual mode of production in a complex way – going beyond a rough formative perspective – remained limited. We may speak of ‘methodological capitalism’, not sufficiently allowing the view on a world systems in which capitalism does not exist or is not dominant. Even the link between hegemonic centres and subordinated periphery is not sufficiently analysed by way of thoroughly considering differences in the modes of production. The present proposal – still only a rough outline – emphasises that any mode of production is in actual fact a composition of different moments. Broadly we may say one dimension consists of the four elementary forms of production, namely production (A), consumption (B), distribution (C) and exchange (D).

The other dimension is based on the contradictory moments pointed out earlier. It is schematised in the conceptual form of considering spatiality and time-comprehensiveness of production (1), economies of scale (2), value dimension of production [priority of use or exchange value] (3) and (4) political-economic governance.

Lacking a better term, I propose to classify each of them by their ‘degree of modernity’.[3] This translates into the following meanings of ‘developed stages’

(1) national boundary, oriented on competitiveness

(2) large scale, ‘industrial’ production

(3) dominance of exchange value, disfavouring use value

(4) rational and bureaucratic rule of law.

Now we have to consider a further step, namely the application of these dimensions on two levels, namely the national (or possibly regional) level (I) and the international level (ii).

Bringing this together, allows us presenting the following scheme.

 

1

2

3

4

A

               

B

               

C

               

D

               
 

I

II

I

II

I

II

I

II

Matrix 1: Analytical Scheme for Assessing Countries

This may be also seen as foundation for an empirical analysis of a global order, classifying the dependencies. It would be calculated a weighed index that comprises the different countries and regions on the basis of their share in performance values. However, importantly we have to recognise that the valuation and weighing has two dimensions: the one is the simple calculation of relevant values; more difficult is however determining the qualitative aspect. This is actually of crucial meaning at this historical stage. In a nutshell: we see that many of the standards are breaking away and the hegemonic claims cannot be made on the same foundations which had been unquestioned for a long time: growth of GDP as standard measuring wealth, economies of scale, locality and identity … – these are just few examples marking shifts on the scale of valuation of the foundation of hegemonic claims.

Social Quality Theory

This leads directly to the argument that social quality is actually not just an attractive paradigm. Instead we find here a proposal that is geared towards rethinking a world in crisis and transformation.

We may say that World Systems Theory is in some way only a formal framework, considering an important and even central aspect of societal constitution of which Frederick Engels said that

[a]ccording to the materialist conception, the determining factor in history is, in the last resort,, the production and reproduction of immediate life. But this itself is again of a twofold character. On the one hand, the production of the means of subsistence, of food, clothing and shelter and the implements required for this; on the other, the production of human beings themselves, the propagation of the species. The social institutions under which men of a definite historical epoch and of a definitive country live are determined by both kinds of production: by the stage of development of labour, on the one hand, and of the family on the other.
(Engels, Frederick, 1884: The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State [in the light of the researches by Lewis H. Morgan]; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works. Volume 26. Engels: 1882-1889; London: Laurence&Wishart, 1990: 129-276; here: 131)

However, only recognising the complex points Engels makes, allows us elaborating the substantial side which World Systems Theory falls short to develop. Of course, classical Marxist analysis left a large part of the social dimension outside of its immediate consideration, not least by implicitly developing it implicitly by providing a methodological framework.

  • A shortcoming, however, has to be seen in the fact that the classical Marxist approach had been very much limited by focusing the analysis on the emerging capitalist formation – suggesting this way a very specific take on social issues.[4]
  • Furthermore, leaving few exceptions aside, the idea of ‘one society’ did actually not exist – instead, class society as divided society had been ‘accepted reference’. ‘Hegemony’, in this respect, had been only spelled out as blunt ruling of market force: oppression, hierarchy, dependency, living at the margins … – all this had been by and large unquestioned and did not need much of justification by pretending harmony. The divided society had been given and it had been suggested as ‘natural order’. As it had been a reinterpretation of the ‘liberal citizen-society’, the revolution of the citoyenitée had been a ‘failed but maintained project’: It had been failed as it did not keep its promises of equality and fraternity; however, it had been maintained by promising ongoing liberty, though reduced on freedom of the agents on the market. In this sense the paradox had been that a highly unequal society that could justifiably claim to be the heir of the anti-feudalist revolution.
  • As much as the ‘project capitalist formation’ had been caught by and limited in the framework of a utilitarian project, the adjunct ‘social project’ had been caught in the same limitation: as the one had been very much guided by methodological nationalism, the other had been very much based in methodological individualism. Both moved in the very same framework. For the social project it meant for instance pedagogisation, psychologisation, ‘securitisation’, and ‘provisionalisation’ (granting of benefits and services) and the like.
  • This meant not least that thinking (about) the social had been limited in the ability to develop a perspective that would be able to transcend presence as time frame and nation state as space. Furthermore, it limited in this way the social perspective as an ‘add-on’, not being able to present a truly genuine understanding of the social.

The social quality theory is an approach that had been developed from the middle of the 1990s in order to argue in favour of a more social Europe. However, being in the beginning very much concerned with a rebuke of ‘economistic over -determination’, it became increasingly clear that the problem is not a supposed dominance of the economic sphere. Instead, the problem had been increasingly getting seen as a lack of the definition of the social – understood as noun. In general, social science refers to the social without even thinking about its underlying substance area – substituting considerations by reference to supposed aggregates (as society, state etc.) or to assumed attributes of values and moral characteristics. Analysing social situations in this light had been usually rather short-sighted, being on the one hand concerned with institutional perspectives of provisions of socio-economic security (pensions, health care, social benefits …), looking on the other hand at ethical and moral dimensions of behaviour. The SQT, however, looks at the social, understood as noun and defined as

an outcome of the interaction between people (constituted as actors) and their constructed and natural environment. Its subject matter refers to people’s interrelated productive and reproductive relationships. In other words, the constitutive interdependency between processes of self-realisation and processes governing the formation of collective identities is a condition for the social and its progress or decline.
(van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan, 2012: Social Quality and Sustainability; in: Van der Maesen, Laurent J.G./Walker, Alan (eds.): Social Quality. From Theory to Indicators: Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan; 250-274; here: 260)

The definition had been developed by applying an iterative approach – which had been originally limited to EUropean member states.[5]

It is based in three sets of factors, namely: conditional factors, constitutional factors and normative factors, defined by four dimensions each. We arrive at an architecture, determining the social and allowing to assess its quality, which is bringing constitutional, conditional and normative factors together (see van der Maesen, Laurent J.G., November 20th, 2012: Working-paper no 9: Elaboration of a Lecture on the Orientation, Strategies and Model (or Experiences) of the City of Hangzhou (Zhejiang province of mainland China),  from a comparative; working papers at http://socialquality.eu/ – 20/09/2013 : 4).

As said, so far the concept had been originally developed in the collaboration of colleagues from EU-member states, and later it had been further discussed with colleagues from different Asian countries (see for the latter http://www.socialquality.net/).

All this is surely still work in progress – the following major challenges can be made out at this stage:

  • to integrate rights-based thinking, and this is also legal paradigms into the theory;
  • probably more urgent point is to develop a clearer economic thinking in this context, i.e. to develop social quality thinking further in connection with political economy;
  • to globalise the approach, i.e. to go beyond its application in different countries and regions and adapt the general scaffold to the conditions en lieu: at the end – and linking to what had been said – we always have been  and are increasingly visibly and palpable for everybody – living in one global world: not “interconnected nation states” but one space, defined by the same conditions, challenges, practices and futures;
  • to ‘communitiaraise’ the approach by looking at concrete ways in which people accommodate their lives in the given circumstances.

Social quality in this brief outline will provide a useful guideline and framework for the envisaged research. A clearer understanding requires however to enter a wider array of paradigms that should at least be briefly mentioned as complementing SQT and SQA, allowing at least to arrive at a clearer understanding of the context in which developments of societies, the social and identity stand today. Important is that this approach actually focuses on two ends. On the one side against national or spatial boundaries. This can be summarised by two contentions, presenting the political and the economic perspective. Hans Heinrich Rupp states that

thinking in spational categories is the enemy of all academic legal attempts to conceive of law as a social phenomenon
(Rupp, Hans Heinrich, 1991 : Grundfragen der heutigen Verwaltungsrechtslehre; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck: 258)

Philip E. Steinberg marks the economic dimension, contending that

the territorial state emerged concurrent with the deterritorialization of political economy and geographical imagination
(Steinberg, Philip E., 2009: Sovereignty, Territory, and the Mapping of Mobility: A View from the Outside; in: Annals of the Association of American Geographers; 99, 3, 467-495: 468).

On the other hand, however, it emphasises the ultimate importance of the community level as place of immediate interaction and with this (re-)production of the social.

****

Now, the optimistic view so far is that we are actually able to refer to a methodological framework – perhaps we may even claim two frameworks: one of methodological mondialism and the other of methodological socialism – allowing us to analyse the current situation fairly well. And it is also a framework that is actually relatively open to different ideological approaches. Relatively means it takes openly position towards the political goal of a world society that provides equal opportunities for all – a formula that brings together the three sets of factors; but within this broad remit it recognises accepting different traditions, different structural patterns and set-ups and different concrete political processes coming to the fore as strategic perspectives.

The, for me, most important point is that we reached a historical turning point that bears some similarities with the situation to which Karl Marx referred, claiming that

[a]t a certain stage of development it brings forth the material agencies for its own dissolution. From that moment new forces and new passions spring up in the bosom of society; but the old social organisation fetters them and keeps them down.
(Marx, Karl, 1867: Capital Vol. I; in: Karl Marx. Frederick Engels. Collected Works; Volume 35; London: Lawrence&Wishart, 1996: 749)

Seemingly – at first glance – this contests both, many aims we had been striving for and many achievements reached during the historical development of the last 150 plus years: social insurance, social benefits, even human rights in the understanding of mainstream interpretations. This mans, however, only to recognise fully the historical character of society and the social.

I have to limit myself to highlighting few fields that I see as being of utmost importance under the heading of the search for international humanitarian law.

  1. We actually have to go beyond the search for humanitarian law, and reclaim demanding true human rights
  2. We have to develop anti-imperialism by way of moving towards genuine mondialism
  3. We have to search for ways overcoming ‘social provisionalism’ by enabling soci(et)al self-determination
  4. We have to find ways of re-naturalising the mode of production, re-installing it as conscious metabolism.

Ad 1

I suggest that there is a certain shortcoming if we speak of humanitarian law.

  • Though the term humanitarian suggests intuitively an emphasis on relations between human beings, founded in mutual respect (which carries always an egalitarian notion with it), it suggests also a rather ‘soft’ understanding of such respect and egalitarianism. In this respect, reference to human beings has a stronger recognition of respecting human existence in its own value.
  • The important relationality, i.e. complex of relations between human beings – is regained by orienting on rights. With this we are overcoming some structural limitations of law which tends to reduce dealings on formalised relations between individuals.

Such orientation would not least mean to orient strongly on the right to self-determined (re-)production in terms of

  • determining use-values, instead of being determined by exchange values; this includes importantly the recognition of the (re-)production of social relations as productive force;
  • optimising relationships to – or better: the integration into – ‘nature’, i.e. a determined respect of collective rights within a given organic environment; this can be integrated into the proposal made by Durkheim by his analysis of mechanical solidarity.[6]

Taken together, this means that a human rights perspective has to develop towards a 4th generation: The right to collective (re-)productive self-determination, based on environmental integrity.

Ad 2

Seemingly contradicting is the second point, demanding a genuine mondialist perspective. Global competition and the orientation of competitiveness is as much in the way of such strategic as any attempt towards autarkic seclusion. This has especially major implications for international trade and taxation. Point of reference is ultimately a non-anthropocentric, non-present-time orientation. This means to see human existence as part of a much wider spectrum of existence: in question is indeed the universe and the possibility of the universal reproduction on a permanent (sustainable) basis. The rejection of anthropocentrism human existence escapes the equation. In actual fact, human existence enters exactly here the stage by emphasising its existence s complex and concrete relation. Being ‘part of’ nature means that it existence surely takes parts out of nature (pars capere) but it also means that it can only exist within it and by securing its reproduction. Securing these (inter-)dependencies is thus essential.

We are dealing with a specifically defined level of abstraction. On the one hand we are forced to look at a very concrete level of people’s practice as

[r]elations are the most abstract and metaphysical ideas of any which men can have occasion  to form, when they are considered by themselves and separated from the related object.
(Hugh Blair:  Lectures on rhetoric and belles lettres; in:  Birindellei, Massimo (1981): Piazza San PietroRoma/Bari: Editori Laterza: 0)

However, on the other hand we are challenged to accept the concrete not simply as ‘something given’ but as something that is historically created and that can be changed. As Boaventura de Sousa Santos points out

it is important not to reduce realism on what exists. Doing so we would only justify the existing, not withstanding how injustice and suppressing it may be.
(Sousa Santos, Boaventura de, 1997: Hacia una concepción multicultural de los derechos humanos: 15; http://democraciayterritorio.wordpress.com/2008/08/09/hacia-una-concepcion-multicultural-de-los-derechos-humanos/ – 06/10/13)

Ad 3

With this we arrive at a third point. Without tracing the line of historical development thoroughly back we can say that we reached a new stage on which human practice is divided in the following ways:

  • One dividing line is going right through practice itself and defines economic activities as separate from the entirety of human practice. In the extreme we find it reflected in Marx’ formulation on alienation, pointing on

the fact that labor is external to the worker, i.e., it does not belong to his intrinsic nature; that in his work, therefore, he does not affirm himself but denies himself, does not feel content but unhappy, does not develop freely his physical and mental energy but mortifies his body and ruins his mind. The worker therefore only feels himself outside his work, and in his work feels outside himself. He feels at home when he is not working, and when he is working he does not feel at home.
(Marx, Karl, 1844: Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts; in: Karl Marx Frederick Engels. Collected Works Volume 3: Marx and Engels 1843-1844; London: Laurence&Wishart, 1975: 229-346; here: 274)

  • Second, this establishes a central dividing line, juxtaposing in opposition human existence and human beings on the one hand and nature on the other hand. This is not about the freedom gained by knowing the laws of nature but it is about knowing the laws of nature in order to subordinate nature itself under humankind.
  • With this we find as third dividing line the one between past, present and future. This is not as such a problem – the problem only begins where the need of continuity – as matter of working within the historical process – is denied and a loan is taken on the future without including considerations into the present practice about how to pay this loan back.
  • A fourth dividing line – to some extent bringing different lines together – concerns the regionally unequal distribution: though soci(et)al (re-)production is and will – objectively – always be a holistic process, it is artificially divided n respect of space and time: we borrow from other countries and from the future without considering the effects. And this means of course that some countries are lenders. And some countries are donors. Now, important is terminological clarity. Though the rich countries may be indeed seen as donor countries in terms of money, they are actually only doing so by way of paying a kind of interest for the goods and services they receive. We can express this also in economic terms: parallel to constant capital, replacing variable capital we find here finance capital replacing real capital. Fact is, however, that the replacement of variable capital by constant capital (‘rationalisation’) can be structurally viable, the replacement of real capital by finance capital cannot. Actually this form of replacement (‘f by r’) is the attempt to maintain capitalism as ‘virtual project’.
  • This is manifested in a fifth dividing line, actually a bundle of lines as between rural and urban areas, between the commodity producing Global South and the commodity consuming Global North, but increasingly between the global rich and the global poor.[7]

Of course, of crucial importance is with all this the matter class division, which finds then also its prolongation and extension as part and parcel of the other divisions.

In actual fact, we are dealing with complex and interwoven processes of division: borrowing from the future and borrowing from other regions and borrowing from other classes and borrowing from nature are possibly temporarily advantageous. However, in the medium and especially long run such borrowing is not viable. Moreover, in the short and medium run it means facing an increasing limitation of the scope of action as soci(et)al practice is reduced on compensation by provision, not providing space for self-determination. – The debate on so-called developmental aid shows this throughout history again and again – even more: money spent is in multiplied forms flowing back into the so-called donor countries.

To the extent to which the provisions are not part of the production itself, we face multiple dilemmas which can be summarised by saying that systems loose the capacities to reproduce themselves – this can be seen in the ‘bubble-economies’, demographic ‘imbalances’, environmental hazards, the fact that formal norms are overgrowing substantial rules, and not least the fact that ‘productive’ potentials are disregarded as they are not taking the commodity form. Many other features could be mentioned.

Demanding overcoming ‘social-provisionalism’, i.e. mechanisms of correcting soci(et)al ills by ex-post provisions, then means in simple terms moving towards a (re-)convergence of the various

  • technical
  • social
  • temporal and
  • spatial

moments of (re-)production.

In actual fact we are another time returning to the importance of regional cultures of self-determined production.

Ad 4

Al this means in particular the re-establishment of the true metabolism that is entailed in production proper. The most-far reaching separation characterising the development of the productive forces is actually the one that is concerned with tendency of overcoming the dependency of or at least stretching the distance between human kind and nature. It is not about rejecting rationalisation and a rebuke of technical progress. However, it is about rejecting a dominance of technisation that leads to a stage where we are producing without knowing the reason behind it.

I want to conclude with a remark taken from speech given by Ernesto Che Guervara, addressing his co-workers at the ministry of industry in 1961, facing new challenges:

We can all contribute with our own efforts, everybody with his/her own view which may very different; and based on his/her own convictions which may also be very different, but always aiming on contributing in the vital work – leaving the figures behind, as far as this is possible, interpreting the reality as it really is. That does not mean to return to the short-sighted practicism of the first days but we have to find a point of reference to combine the two essential things in an optimal way: namely on the one hand the practical and immediate knowledge, the reality and communication amongst us and on the other side the large abstract effort which is necessary to fulfil our tasks.
(Che Guevara, Ernesto,  October 6th, 1961: Gibt es ein Recht auf Verschwendung; in: Che Guevara, Ernesto: Der Neue Mensch. Entwürfe für das Leben in der Zukunft. Selected, interpreted and introduced by Horst-Eckart Gross; Dortmund: Weltkreis: 1984: 61-80; here: 63)


[1]            Preparations for a presentation for the workshop on Strategic Studies: Rethinking a World in Crisis and Transformation held by the Centro de Investigaciones de Política Internacional, Havana, October 2013

[2]            This is in actual facto a far-reaching statement, suggesting policy making as process of production that follows similar patterns as capitalist commodity production.

[3]            ‘Modernity’ in the present understanding is by no means understood as simply a progressive and positive pattern or stage of development. Instead, here it is simply a ‘descriptive’ means, capturing the pattern of societal organisation that developed with the contradictions as result of the bourgeois revolution and Western-style enlightenment.

[4]            Given by the need of thinking about issues concerned with securing matters of mere existence.

[5]            Due to the origin of the work and the availability of funding

[6]            In this light the term ‘organic’ environment refers very much to the biological understanding of nature etc.

[7]            Expressing the fact that there is an increasing wealth in so-called developing countries and the emergence of “pockets” of poverty, precarity etc in the so-called developed countries.

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