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Putting the nation back into 'the international'

Davidson, N. (2009) Putting the nation back into 'the international'. Cambridge Review of International Affairs, 22 (1). pp. 9-28. ISSN 0955-7571

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Alex Callinicos and Justin Rosenberg have both drawn on the concept of uneven and combined development to resolve what they see as deficiencies in international relations theory: in the case of the former, the absence of a non-realist explanation for the persistence of the states system; in the case of the latter, the absence of a sociological dimension to geopolitics. However, Callinicos omits any consideration of the 'combined' aspect of uneven and combined development, while Rosenberg ascribes characteristics of transhistoricity and internationality to uneven and combined development which it does not possess. Against attempts to either restrict or over-extend use of the concept, I will argue that its theoretical usefulness depends on understanding the limits of its spatial and chronological reach. An alternative, if still partial, explanation for the continued existence of the states system will emphasize the continuing indispensability of nationalism as a means of both containing class conflict within capitalist states and mobilizing support for 'national capitals' engaged in geoeconomic and geopolitical competition.