International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE)
IIPPE was founded in 2006 with the aim of developing and promoting political economy in and of itself but also through critical and constructive engagement with mainstream economics, heterodox alternatives, interdisciplinarity, and activism understood broadly as ranging across formulating progressive policy through to support for progressive movements. Thus, in terms of intellectual content and direction, we see ourselves as commanding and criticising mainstream economics, offering alternatives from within political economy, addressing the nature of contemporary capitalism and corresponding policy and applied issues, and drawing upon and contributing to the presence of political economy, and critique of “economics imperialism”, within other disciplines. Although we do expect Marxist political economy to have a strong presence and to be engaged with seriously as such by participants, IIPPE is a pluralistic forum where all progressive brands of political economy are welcome. We are keen, however, to avoid continuing sterile and academic controversy at the expense of more constructive engagement across theoretical, empirical and practical issues. Current intellectual retreats from the extremes, and agenda-setting postures, of postmodernism and neo-liberalism mean that prospects across the social sciences are more open than for a long time, and some lasting and significant influence can be exerted by concertedly developing and promoting political economy both within academia across the social sciences and more widely.
The intention of IIPPE is to develop and promote political economy, especially but not exclusively Marxist political economy, at a particularly opportune and appropriate moment. Within the discipline of economics itself, all heterodoxy has been marginalised, and engagement with alternatives is more or less proscribed. Across the other social sciences, though, interest in political economy is stronger than for a long time, especially in the wake of retreat from, and rejection of, the agendas set by neo-liberalism and postmodernism. This is evidenced by the strong interest in, and intellectual direction given to, “globalisation”, for example, as a way of characterising the realities of contemporary capitalism. Contribution to debate over contemporary capitalism will be a major element in IIPPE’s contribution. Especially in the wake of the global financial crisis, it will range over the nature and causes of the present structure, pace and dynamic of the accumulation of capital at global, national and sectoral levels as well as the implications for developing and transitional economies.
But it will also remain important to continue to hold a critical perspective on developments within mainstream economics, and especially its most recent aggressive attempts to colonise other social sciences. But the ranks of those trained within economics as a discipline and also critical of it are now sorely depleted with little prospect of them being replenished so intolerant is the discipline of alternatives. An important task is to draw upon critical reflection from within economics as much as is possible with dwindling resources. By the same token, there is an increasingly compelling need for political economy to be developed and promoted within other disciplines and across fields and topics that have become perceived as non-economic in light of the strength of interdisciplinary boundaries and an understandable hostility to economics itself as a discipline. For this reason, apart from sustaining a critique of mainstream economics, we wish both to assess and advance political economy as it is now but also to address and engage with its presence across the other social sciences. We believe it needs a stronger and more developed presence, without which the economics content of social science will become subject to capture by orthodoxy and/or arbitrary and fragmented heterodoxy. We are also keen to address the relationship between political economy and activism, broadly interpreted, especially in view of the drift in academia towards policy advice, consultancy and self-promoting publicity as the core forms taken by its external activity.
Our main goal is to establish and sustain a network of support for IIPPE, with our main activity being the setting up of a number of working groups around particular topics. These will run themselves subject to conforming to broader IIPPE aims and activities. We have also held an annual international research student workshop in political economy (the first in Crete in 2007 involved forty students from over a dozen countries, the second in Naples in 2008, involving over fifty students from even more countries, and a third projected to be held in Turkey in 2009). IIPPE formally launched at the Historical Materialism Conference at SOAS in November, also holding a numbers of panels of its own and a major support to other panels. It is projected to organise a major conference in 2010, and to launch both a book series and, ultimately, a journal. We already have a number of offers for special issues in leading journals. Our first Call for Papers is for a special issue of the journal “Forum for Social Economics” .