Comparative Political Economy: States, Markets and Global Capitalism, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2014; 392 pp: 9780230555174, 28.99 [pounds sterling] (pbk)
Ben Clift provides an innovative textbook that integrates numerous accounts and perspectives within the study of political economy. The book focuses especially on highlighting and explaining the linkages between political economy, international political economy (IPE) and comparative political economy (CPE). In doing so, the book successfully fills a gap between IPE and CPE, interpreting the historical evolution and transformation of state-market relations, and providing theoretically and empirically rich explanations for those transformations.
Chapters 1 and 2 justify the importance of historical change in state/market relations and contemporary capitalist restructuring, locating the discussion within the context of theoretical debates in political economy. Clift situates CPE as a field of study within classical political economy, tracing especially the influence of key thinkers, including Adam Smith, Karl Marx and Friedrich List. In doing so, he grounds the history of political economy in the emergence of modern capitalism and market societies, before subsequently integrating IPE and CPE by emphasising the importance of the analysis of both international and domestic forces, and discussing how international influences are mediated and channeled in domestic contexts.
Chapters 3 to 7 introduce the theories and approaches that comprise CPE, again highlighting their emergence from classical political economy. Chapter 3 introduces Adam Smith and classical liberal political economy, which emphasises the importance of free market principles. The chapter also examines economic nationalism by introducing Listian political economy, in which List highlights the importance of nations as intermediaries between individuals and humanity, and the way in which this was earlier ignored by classical political economists. Clift goes on to contrast Smithian and Listian approaches with Marxian political economy on one hand, on the other, to highlight the different understanding of wealth, value, and the concepts of capital, capitalist market and exploitation contained within Marx's work, contrasted with both liberal and nationalist understandings. Not only does Clift describe Marxian political economy concisely and clearly, but he also develops the argument that Marx's formation of the...