Understanding the Cataclysm
Cataclysm 1914: The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics

Ruff, Allen

Publisher:  Against the Current
Date Written:  01/07/2016
Year Published:  2016  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21461

Book review of Alexander Anievas' Cataclysm 1914: The First World War and the Making of Modern World Politics.



Numerous Marxist observers have long viewed the war as not just the failure of a liberal "international order," the collapse of an established "balance of power" or merely the result of bad or miscalculated policy. Rather, it was seen as the direct outcome of a competition, propelled by capitalist imperatives, that accelerated during the 19th century "age of capital" and intensified during the globalized "Long Depression" of the century's last quarter.

Not understandable merely in economic terms, that "new imperialism" of the prewar era, enshrouded in nationalist notions of destiny, "civilizing mission" and supremacy, also provided a hoped-for set of "spatial" and "temporal" fixes for increasingly concentrated, but crisis-prone and conflict-ridden class societies.

A number of the Cataclysm chapters employ the theory of uneven and combined development for understanding the political economy of the war's causes and effects. Several of the authors including Anievas, historians Adam Tooze, Peter Thomas, and historical sociologist Neil Davidson expand upon Trotsky's initial insights on the international dynamics of the era's capitalist development; the unevenly experienced disruptions stimulated by the increasingly global flow of capital.
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