IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The new political geography of poverty


  • Freeman, Alan


This paper follows the 9/11 paper presented at METU in the previous year. It attempts to analyse the fundamental features of the world economy giving rise to the present military phase. It argues that globalisation is a self-limiting process. Fundamental long-term developments, arising out of the present organisation of the world economy, are acting systematically to undermine it. This results in a crisis I call structural. By this I mean that it is neither transitory nor accidental. It is a permanent, ineradicable and ultimately dominant determinant of the way the world is now evolving. This structural crisis, the paper argues, arises from an unsustainable economic relation between the US economy and the world economy. This expresses itself in a new form, evident in the events that have unfolded since 11th September 2001. The market is literally tearing the world apart; it is beginning to render large tracts of it ungovernable. As its economic mechanisms become increasingly incapable of resolving the social contradictions that they create, the nations and societies through which it is mediated are being plunged into increasingly in openly political conflict. The endemic crises, armed conflicts and governmental instability of the Middle East, of Central Asia, of the Balkans, of Central and Northern Africa, of Central and Southern America, and of South-East Asia, each has its specificity. But the basic driving force behind all of them is same: the crushing weight of two decades of accelerating economic stagnation, accompanied by universally growing inequality. The governments of the advanced nations, who have provoked and lived off this phase of world development, now face problems no longer solvable by purely economic means. Confronted with countries and regions in which economic conditions lay no sound basis for stable government external intervention, willing or not, becomes the only remaining option. Whereas the conflicts of the eighties and nineties centred on the financial and commercial organisations such as the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, and although these organisations continue to serve as an arena in which increasingly acrimonious and conflictual relations between nations and regions are fought out, open geopolitical intervention – war, the violent overturn of governments, the break-up of nations, annexation, and colonisation, and open trade conflict – is now at the top of the agenda. The state, in a word, is back. This is the fundamental reason behind an epochal shift in US policy towards direct military and political intervention in the internal affairs of states. Accompanying this is a growing political tension between the advanced countries and a growing inability of the US to impose a political consensus, most clearly demonstrated by the enormous problems it has had in building a coalition for its war on Iraq. This signals a phase of more or less open geopolitical struggle between advanced countries for territorial dominance, driven by the need to dominate and subordinate the labour of the rest of the world to their own capitals.

Suggested Citation

  • Freeman, Alan, 2002. "The new political geography of poverty," MPRA Paper 2621, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:2621

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: original version
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    9/11; World Economy; Kondratieff; Development; Europe; US; value; price; TSSI; temporalism; profit rate; polarisation; inequality; globalisation; deregulation; imperialism; World Systems Theory; unequal exchange; dependency; North-South;

    JEL classification:

    • O11 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Macroeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • F21 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - International Investment; Long-Term Capital Movements
    • O24 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Trade Policy; Factor Movement; Foreign Exchange Policy
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance
    • O10 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - General
    • F43 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Economic Growth of Open Economies


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:2621. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Joachim Winter). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.