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Explaining the US presence in the Indo-Pacific: Marxist-Gramscian-Kautskyian approaches

Parmar, I. ORCID: 0000-0001-8688-9020 & Nouri, B. (2023). Explaining the US presence in the Indo-Pacific: Marxist-Gramscian-Kautskyian approaches. In: Turner, Oliver, Nymalm, Nicola & Aslam, Wali (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of US Foreign Policy in the Indo-Pacific. . Routledge. doi: 10.4324/9781003018322


This chapter conceptualises the US’s position and role in the Indo-Pacific by advancing a theoretical approach that synthesises the Gramscian approach to hegemony with Karl Kautsky’s concept of ‘ultra-imperialism’. Key recent-past events are explored to illustrate the theoretical approach, arguing it provides a better explanation of the dynamics of US relations with Indo-Pacific states, and Sino–US relations, than realist and liberal arguments. Regarding Sino–US relations, the Gramscian-Kautskyian argument advocates that the US and China are more intricately interconnected and interdependent than realists and liberals allow, thus critically influencing the trajectory of the relationship. The deeply embedded drivers and maintenance mechanisms of this interconnectedness and interdependency – transnational elite knowledge networks underpinned by ultra-imperial shared ruling class interests in the US and China – not only maintain a balance of power that favours the US, but manage and block threats to the order simultaneously. As a result, we argue that turbulence and heated rhetoric in the relationship is counter-balanced by deep and broad interdependencies. This maintains co-operation across numerous domains as determined by the balance of power between dominant states. Such interdependencies, while competitive, help moderate competition via common rules and norms, and through official and unofficial diplomacy. We argue that conceptualising US hegemony as consisting of transnational elite knowledge networks, in which are embedded key elements of the power elites of other great powers, best explains Sino–US relations’ ‘ups and downs’ as two interdependent powers jostling for position while cooperating on several fronts. The Gramscian–Kautskyian perspective also explains the domestic sources of class-based turbulence in the relationship, as elite knowledge networks manage popular opposition to the effects of globalised interdependence and the redistributions of work that lead to economic change, and rising inequalities.

Publication Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of a book chapter published by Routledge in The Routledge handbook of US Foreign Policy in the Indo-Pacific on 30 December 2022, available online: 10.4324/9781003018322
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
[thumbnail of Handbook ABSOLUTE FINALE (003).pdf] Text - Accepted Version
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