International relations and Marxism

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Commentary on the books organized by Caio Bugiato from Network of Studies in International Relations and Marxism.

In 2016, professors and researchers from Brazilian and foreign universities met in Rio de Janeiro to participate in the XNUMXst Colloquium on International Relations and Marxism. Faced with the marginalization of historical materialism in the area of ​​international relations in Brazil and around the world, the Colloquium participants founded the Network for Studies in International Relations and Marxism. From then on, a series of activities and publications were promoted by the Network's researchers.

The second and third Colloquium were held in Rio de Janeiro in 2022 and in Salvador in 2024, respectively, in addition to a virtual seminar during the pandemic. These and other events can be accessed on Network channel on YouTube. Articles, dossiers and books were published in Brazil and abroad with the aim of promoting theoretical developments and concrete analyzes of international phenomena based on Marxism. One of the first publications was the book Marxism and International Relations, which can be accessed here.

In this sense, in 2024 two other books come to light. The first, Marxism and International Relations: perspectives from the Brazilian Global South, is a collective publication of works by Brazilian researchers aimed at a foreign audience. It is composed of chapters from the previously mentioned book and new chapters, translated into English.

The book is organized into four sections: Marx and Engels' key ideas for International Relations; Marxist thinkers as International Relations theorists; Marxist theories about imperialism; and Latin American theory on dependence. In the first section, the authors highlight the contributions of Communist Manifesto for understanding the modern international system, the conception of international politics found in the journalistic articles of Marx and Engels published in New York Daily Tribune and the importance of studies on revolutions for International Security.

In the second section, the researchers dedicate themselves to the works of Marxist thinkers – Lenin, Rosa Luxemburg, Nicos Poulantzas, Laclau e Mouffe, Domenico Losurdo and David Harvey – and present their reflections on international relations, which allows us to consider them as theoretical of International Relations. In the third section, the authors deal with the Marxist theory of imperialism and its debates at different moments: First World War, second half of the 20th century and currently. In the fourth section, the authors present the Marxist theory of dependence, with systematic exposition, debate and criticism. They emphasize that this theory, originating in Latin America, is fundamental to understanding the dynamics of global capitalism and, particularly, the Global South, its contradictions and transformations.

The other - Marx and Engels: international relations analyst – is, in general terms, a book that opposes common statements according to which Marx and Engels had nothing to say about international relations. The chapter authors identify that there are enduring concerns of Marx and Engels with international affairs of their time. Both were witnesses to the expansion of capital and capitalism around the world, the transnational character of the 1848 revolutions, the reactions of the European powers that made up the Vienna Convention system and the possible change in the balance of power with the tendency towards German unification. Phenomena like these made them look more closely at the connections between the national dimension of States and international events.

Thus, the authors of the book point to these connections in the various writings of Marx and Engels, both based on their concrete analysis texts and Class struggles in Franceit of 1848 to 1850, The 18th Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte and The Civil War in France, as well as reflections on international relations in articles published in New Rhenish Gazette between 1848 and 1849, in the New York Daily Tribune between 1851 and 1862 and in documents from the International Workers' Association. In addition to their analyzes of the international situation, the two revolutionaries also wrote about the international dimension of the expansion of capital and capitalism around the world in texts since the german ideology, passing by Communist Manifesto and hair floorplans and, more clearly, in books I and III of The capital, demonstrating their concern about the formation of the world market.

The chapters of the book dialogue directly or indirectly with the issues mentioned and deal with topics such as diplomacy, war, colonialism, internationalism, revolution, capital accumulation and the world market, among others. In this set of writings, the lasting concern of Marx and Engels is summarized by the war-revolution binomial: on the one hand, the European powers fight for world supremacy and seek to maintain the international order (Vienna System) through their foreign policies, with diplomatic interventions and military. On the other hand, the transnational labor movement organizes itself to destroy the old society and build a new one, through peaceful and violent struggles, reformist and revolutionary struggles.

The three books mentioned are great contributions to the field of International Relations, as they rescue Marxism and its formulations for international analysis, thus providing a counterpoint to dominant analyzes based on liberal ideology and bringing historical materialism back into the debate.

*Antonio Pedro Bandeira de Mello de Miranda He is a Master's student in International Relations at UFABC.


Caio Bugiato (org.). Marxism and International Relations: perspectives from the Brazilian Global South. Leiden, Brill, 2024, 304 pages.

Caio Bugiato (org.). Marx & Engels: international relations analysts. Florianópolis, Enunçado Publicações, 2024. 242 pages.

Caio Bugiato (org.). Marxism and International Relations. Goiânia: Phillos Academy, 2021. 320 pages.

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