Économie politique

G11(b) - Statecraft in Turbulent Times: Global Markets, Political Responses and Transformations

Date: Jun 13 | Heure: 10:15am to 11:45am | Salle:

Chair/Président/Présidente : Alicja Krubnik (McMaster University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Brian Bow (Dalhousie University)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Zarlasht Muhammad Razeq (University of Warwick)

Whatever Happened to the Post-COVID Developmental State?: Brian Bow (Dalhousie University)
Abstract: In the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, in some parts of the world, there was some optimism on the left (and some concern on the right) that reasonably-effective government management of the crisis might foster popular support for government in general, and for developmental-state economic policies in particular. This developmentalist momentum, it was hoped, might be harnessed to build infrastructure and provide public services, combat income inequality, and respond to climate change. But in retrospect we can see that: i. the breadth, depth, and durability of such an effect on public attitudes varied widely across western countries; ii. developmentalist impulses immediately triggered anti-state counter-attacks, esp. after supply-chain disruptions and inflation kicked in; and iii. public attitudes today are hard to fit on the Cold War-era left-right axis, with many respondents holding mixed/muddled attitudes toward the state. As part of a larger comparative project, this paper reports preliminary findings for the Canadian experience, based on opinion surveys, content analysis of media coverage, and issue-framing in political campaigns.

Anti-Social Europe? Exploring the Resilience of the EU’s Market-Based Toolkit: Nicole Morar (University of Toronto)
Abstract: This paper seeks to understand the lack of ambitious social policy programs in an increasingly “anti-social” European Union. To date, EU-wide social policy and welfare reforms have failed to progress beyond limited, largely voluntaristic commitments to social outcomes. In the aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic, European Union officials and members have advanced a novel, and, at least rhetorically, ambitious policy program: The European Green Deal (EGD), its most comprehensive and wide-reaching strategy towards carbon neutrality, paired with a significant Covid relief injection entitled “Next Generation EU” (NGEU). Of note here is the overtly social emphasis and framing of this proposal, promising to “leave no man behind” in this journey towards net zero emissions. Despite the many references to inclusivity and fairness, however, early analyses indicate that the specific tools and “solutions” proposed in these programs are incapable of achieving their stated social objectives, instead containing the same market-based instruments that have dominated EU policy in the past. This reversion to past strategies is surprising, especially in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has demanded and often exacted significant political concessions from even the most austerity driven governments. While most scholars of EU policy explain the absence of extensive social policy as the inevitable outcome of the EU’s limited fiscal powers, I argue that this absence extends beyond shaky legal foundations. The EU does indeed have a narrow legal basis to social policy, but it also lacks a shared ideational, political and normative foundation through which to pursue and justify it. Drawing on Anne Swidler’s influential notion of culture as a ‘toolkit’, this paper advances a novel constructivist theory on the resilience of "Economic Europe”, a key concept I define as the shared and deeply entrenched belief in the European Union as a primarily economic, not social entity, and the strategic use of this notion to defend the vested interests of powerful actors. This shared conception of “Economic Europe” has come to define a distinct European “toolkit”, outlining appropriate “strategies of action”, which in turn have shaped the ways in which social policy is to be conceptualized and implemented in the European context. In this way, Economic Europe has created an ideological path dependence that determines a type of default analysis and solution to policy problems, as the available “toolkit” prefers and prioritizes solutions associated with “the market”. In times of crisis, however, when paradigms become susceptible to ideological contestation, some actors seek to challenge this paradigm, and others, in turn, seek to uphold it. It is here that we see “paradigmatic borrowing” emerge as an important strategy for actors within both camps. I argue that the social emphasis in the EGD, the inclusion of social language with economic tools, is a strategy of paradigm maintenance, not contestation. By incorporating aspects of social demand into highly visible policy goals, while maintaining primarily economic tools and settings, the paradigm may operate as usual. Ultimately, this paper finds that tying European Union activity so directly to the diverse notions of “the market” drastically expanded the influence of the European Union, but in so doing, arguably reduced the legitimacy and potential for future EU activity outside of this designated area.

Authoritarian State and Competitive Strategy: Observations from Turkey and Egypt: Ulas Tastekin (McMaster University)
Abstract: In the last decade, it is fair to mention a process of authoritarianism worldwide since many countries have gravitated to more authoritarian rules in different ways and channels. This study claims that the proliferation of authoritarian governments is an international trend taking hold in many countries. Accordingly, we are witnessing an interregnum in international politics where previously agreed paradigms have lost their credibility, but the new paradigms have yet to emerge. In this context, the uncertain nature of transition creates instabilities. This paper argues that this shift in international architecture is an important factor, if not the only one, in understanding the authoritarian turn in the world. Even though the interregnum provides more policy space to developing countries, authoritarian regimes exploit this opportunity for their consolidation. In line with this argument, this study shares evidence from Turkey and Egypt by looking at how the Erdogan and Sisi regimes have responded to the changes in the international political economy. Accordingly, these regimes draw on authoritarian methods like suppression of labor rights and depreciation of national currency to stay within the international competitive game under conditions of instability. Thereby, they aim to protect and even further expand these countries’ share in the international economy by attracting more capital inflows. On the other hand, from a class-based understanding of democracy, these practices further exclude the working classes’ interests from the decision-making mechanisms in strictly authoritarian ways.

New Constitutionalism in Post-Invasion Iraq: Shehnoor Khurram (York University)
Abstract: Iraq’s integration into global capitalism has involved a complicated history of multiple unsuccessful attempts at neoliberalizing the economy, including, most notoriously, dismantling the interventionist Ba’athist state through the 2003 US-led intervention. The invasion paved the way for the creation of a neoliberal security state, which was founded on a complete rewriting of the constitution. This neoliberal restructuring took place from April 2003 to June 2004 under the auspices of the Anglo-American occupation’s Coalition of Provisional Authority (CPA). During these 14 months, CPA applied “Shock Therapy,” which included 100 legally binding administrative orders implemented without democratic consent, forming the foundations of Iraq’s new governance structure, economy, and criminal justice system. Among the 100, the first three decrees are of the utmost importance because they laid the groundwork to undo the previous political framework of political and economic governance and usher in the superimposition of a new constitutional legal framework to guide macroeconomic, microeconomic, and social policy in line with neoliberalism. Drawing from political economy and state theory, I analyze these three decrees and argue that the CPA followed the script for new constitutionalism of disciplinary neoliberalism by implementing laws that outlasted the CPA and the occupation itself. I investigate how new constitutionalism in Iraq ultimately failed because of the emergence of various classes, social movements, and insurgencies that rose to resist the intensification of dispossession and exploitation. In examining these structural processes, I contribute to ongoing conversations on authoritarian neoliberalism and capitalist development and statehood.