July 3rd, 2021



The impending retreat of US troops from Afghanistan has brought renewed discussion on Pakistan amidst both US and Chinese alliances. Much of the scholarship on Pakistan centers around its military and foreign policy, but less attention has been given to the specific social formations that inform the nation's development.

In a 2014 article, S. AKBAR ZAIDI offers a corrective, arguing that the focus on Pakistan's state and military has obscured readings of class.

From the article:

"The analysis in Pakistan suggests that institutions rather than class determine the nature of the state. The media, judiciary, and parliament are all multi-class institutions, as is the military, although they all work for the defence of the capitalist order in which they function, with the purpose of accumulating more capital. However, they are not class organisations in the way landlords or the industrial bourgeoisie are perceived to be. Yet, these are certainly not institutions that are radical, though they occasionally raise their voices for oppressed nationalities and peoples. Class seems lost in the analysis. The discourse, especially in Pakistan, focuses on very broad categories, such as institutions and on "feudals" and the military.

In recent years, understanding Pakistan has been premised on notions of "Islam", and the country has been forced into an analytical Islamic framework as if no other sense of existence or identity existed. While Islam may be important in analysing Pakistan, it is certainly not the only or even dominant category to examine it, especially in its social formation and class categories. It is the Islam of the post- 9/11 era that has suddenly surfaced as the core of such analyses."

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January 16th, 2021



The simultaneous integration of global markets and decentralization of government within nation states has been a hallmark of the age of globalization.

In a 2004 article, NEIL BRENNER looks to Europe to argue that through processes of decentralization and localization, national state power has been increasingly articulated through competitive forms of urban and regional governance.

From the paper:

"As in the 1970s, the reorientation of urban governance during the 1980s was initiated in part through the bottom-up strategies of local political coalitions struggling to manage the disruptive consequences of economic restructuring by means of ad hoc, uncoordinated policy adjustments. In this period, national goals of equalizing economic development capacities across the national territory was increasingly seen to be incompatible with a new priority of promoting assets within each country's most powerful cities and city-regions. Accordingly, in addition to their strategies to undercut traditional redistributive regional policy relays, national governments now mobilized a number of institutional restructuring initiatives in order to establish a new, competitive infrastructure for urban economic growth within their territories.

Local governments were granted new revenue-raising powers and an increased level of authority in determining local tax rates and user fees, even as national fiscal transfers to subnational levels were diminished. New responsibilities for planning, economic development, social services and spatial planning were devolved downwards to subnational (regional and local) governments. In a number of western European countries, local economic development projects were a key focal point for such devolutionary initiatives. Although these trends were most apparent in traditionally centralized states, such as France and Spain, various policies to enhance regional and local autonomy were also enacted in less centralized European states as well. Decentralization policies were seen as a means to limit the considerable welfare demands of urban areas and to encourage lower-level authorities to assume responsibility for growth policies that might reduce welfare burdens. Even in the United Kingdom, where major aspects of local governance were subjected to increasing central control under the Thatcher regime, the problem of local economic governance was among the key issues upon which the restructuring of intergovernmental relations was focused."

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