Critical GPE Theory and Orthodox IPE Theory

Part 1:

            Orthodox liberalism as presented by Adam Smith was developed to present an argument against the theory of mercantilist as well as the theory of colonialism. The classical liberalism theory is an IPE theory; it provided a different approach on how the economy and the importance of the state should be viewed. Adam Smith who was one of the beginners of this theory established an approach that significance of the state should not come before the economy (Hobson 2018a). This means that the economy of a country took centre stage while the state became a secondary aspect. The theory of classical liberalism presents an argument that the main issue that impacts the political economy of a particular state is based on the impacts of the nation’s interventionism.  The critical GPE theory of postcolonialism can be advanced by critiquing the orthodox liberal IPE theory as presented by Adam Smith. The postcolonialism theory presents the idea of performative function, through this idea, the West is instructed to do some actions throughout the world (Allen 2018, p.3). Postcolonialism is based on power relations, and it's mainly focused on the West over the East. The theory of postcolonialism’s critique of the classical liberalism theory is that focus is given on political economy and not on the state. This means that the people in the state do not have any factor that can unify them, the people do not have any sense of identity. According to poststructuralists analyzing postcolonialism, when people of a particular state do not have a sense of identity, unity cannot be inscribed in them. Conflicts are bound to occur, and both the domestic political economy and the state, in general, will be destroyed (Harding 2015 p.533). According to the postcolonialism theory, the state needs to be accorded importance for people to have a sense of identity which will foster unity to avoid conflicts. Classic orthodox liberalism might lead to conflicts that may adversely impact the political economy of a state and even the state itself.

            The feminist theory’s critique of the orthodox liberal theory is based on the fact that women are not included in the international political economy. The theory of liberalism states that the market of international political economy will self-regulate and that the state should leave the economy alone (Ryan 2017, p.360). This means that the state needs to set conditions that are necessary to ensure capitalism thrives, these conditions that the state has to set include; establishing measures to give property rights, making sure that there is a judicial and legal system and that the state is under the rule of law. The theory also states that the country needs to have an army and police force that is efficiently functional. Liberalism seeks to offer each an equal opportunity to make sure that they get enriched, this is because it propagates the idea that through globalization, the world has become an economic unit that operates autonomously (Butler 2015). This system does not include women and gender, according to the theory of feminism, this will make it challenging for the approach of liberalism to explain the way political economy works. Liberalism seems to ignore the role that women play in promoting political economy and the concept of globalization, according to feminists, there are a lot of contributions which have been made by women which should not be ignored (Ferree 2018 p.13). This is necessary for finding a perfect explanation of how the global political economy works. As it is, the theory of orthodox liberalism does not provide an efficient explanation of the way the concept of the political economy works. The critique by the GPE feminist theory on the IPE theory of orthodox liberalism seeks to show how liberalism has failed to explain the concept of the global economy; this is because of the theory if liberalism ignores the role played by women and other factors in attempting to explain the political economy.

            The GPE theory of Marxism also gives a critique of the IPE theory of orthodox liberalism. According to liberalism, the focus is not given on the struggles of gender, class, the laws of supply and the accepted principles that should govern the practice of economy. Instead, the theory seeks to present the idea of capitalism as a natural practice and ignores other market laws and practices which should govern the practice of economy (Cockburn 2015, p.1). According to the Marxists, promoting capitalism is exploitative, this is because capitalists exploit the labour power and it is from this exploitation that they make their profits. According to Marxists’, this is a fetish, and in the long run, capitalism which is promoted by orthodox liberalism as a way of promoting political economy is bound to fail. This critique of the IPE orthodox theory of liberalism by the GPE Marxism theory seeks to show how capitalism which is propagated by liberalism is inefficient in explaining the political economy. It should also be noted that the Marxist theory argues that the state acts only on the interests of those who are in the class of the capitalists, the bourgeoisie. The state only acts to serve the interests of those in the working class by creating policies that favour them. This means that other people are left out in the development of political economy, the liberalism theory as stated by Adam Smith seeks to give importance to the economy even if it is through capitalism and seeks to downplay the importance of the state. It also exemplifies the role that is played by the capitalists and those who are in the working class while downplaying the role that is played by others in the development of political economy. This is so because the state does not want to suffer economically or lose the revenues that are obtained through taxes. According to Marxism theory, this has an adverse impact on the political economy and also on the state. The state, in this case, does not independently take control of the economy; it needs to serve the interests of the few individuals who are in the dominant class so that it can be able to advance.

Part II:

            The Global Political Economy of Marxism, feminism and postcolonialism critiques the theory the International Political Economy theory of orthodox as presented by individuals like Adam Smith by showing the way the theory is discriminatory and the way it fails to offer an efficient explanation on the concept of political economy. Even though the liberalism theory is considered a problem-solving theory, the theories through their critique show that the theory is inefficient in achieving this task. The main aim of these theories is to try and open the minds of the people so that they can be able to see the oppression and discrimination which is practised by those who are in power and the structures that have been set up to ignore their contribution to political economy or oppress them. By being able to understand the oppression that exists, people can be able to challenge those who are in power and the structures that have been developed, for instance, capitalism, instead of accepting them and become oppressed. In the Marxism theory, the Marxists believe that the problem-solving theory of liberalism promotes bourgeois fetishism, this is the belief that religion, commodities or the states have power in their own right, however, in real sense they do not have their power, this is because they are established by class struggle (Hobson 2018b). Marxists argue that bourgeois fetishism is not efficient because it seeks to present the idea of capitalism as a natural idea and it seeks to ignore the fact that class plays a significant role in the development of capitalism. Because of this, the struggles of the people in the lower classes are often ignored. The government focuses on capitalists, and the develops policies that are aimed at making sure that the interests of the capitalists are taken care of and that they are given the necessary motivation to advance their agenda. This means that the interests of the common people are often ignored even the contribution that they make towards the development of capitalism is not considered. This theory seeks to raise the awareness of people about capitalism and the policies that are created by the state which are meant to benefit the capitalists while it ignores them. People need to understand that the state creates policies that are aimed at promoting capitalism so that they can be able to gain revenue through taxes and stabilize the economy so that other parties can not overthrow it or to avoid its popularity declining. By opening the eyes of the individuals to the activities of the state and capitalists, the theory of Marxism can make the people challenge the structures that have been put by the government in trying to achieve political economy. The people are also able to understand the contribution that they play in the development of the structures which are established by the government.

            Just like the theory of Marxism, the theory of feminism also seeks to make people aware of the oppression that they face and the way their contributions are ignored. According to this theory, the concept of a global political economy cannot be efficiently explained when gender and women are ignored. The feminist theory attempts to open the eyes of people to the role that is played by women in the development of different sectors including the sector of the political economy and how it is usually ignored by the state and the problem-solving theory of orthodox liberalism. The feminist theory states that women play an integral role in the development of the state and they need to be factored in when explaining the concepts of political economy (Williams 2018, p.35). People, especially women are oppressed by the structures that are enhanced by the state especially the idea of capitalism. The state seeks to create policies that serve the interests of the few capitalists while women and many other people are ignored. To overcome this, individuals need to understand the role that they play and the oppression that they go through. This way, they can be able to challenge the structures that have been established by the government. The theory of postcolonialism also seeks to raise the awareness of people about the oppression that they go through and ways through which they can overcome the oppression through challenging the ideas and structures that have been developed by the state. Just like the other GPE theories, the postcolonialism theory critiques the problem-solving theory of liberalism and the importance that it gives to the economy and its relegation of the state. The postcolonialism theory argues that the emphasis that is given to the economy makes it difficult for the role that is played by people to be identified (Hobson 2018c). The relegation of the importance of the state also means that the factors that unify people of a particular state are not considered, and this might affect the development of the state’s political economy. The theory seeks to make people aware of the oppression that exists because of the structures that have been developed by the state so that they can come up with ways to challenge these oppressive structures.

            However, some differences exist between the critical theories of Marxism, feminism and postcolonialism. According to the Black and Brown feminists, the white feminists are usually Eurocentric. The propagators of the postcolonialism theory in some cases view the Marxists as Eurocentric; it should also be noted that there are Marxists who are postcolonialists as well as feminists who are postcolonialists. According to the arguments presented by some feminists, the theories of liberalism and Marxism include gender in their arguments by integrating the idea of classes. According to these women who are critical about the theory of Marxism and liberalism, the ideology of class in the discussion of political economy seeks to include women and avoids the recognition of the structural power. These feminists argue that even when women are brought to the public, the oppression of the state and structures that have been put up by the state will not be solved. However, there are some feminists who state that the use of patriarchy cannot be reduced to the arguments that have been developed about class or bringing women into the public limelight and this cannot be used as a problem-solving theory. Some feminists are Marxists too; this means that they believe that there are people in lower classes who struggle for a nation to be prosperous in political economy.

            It can be seen that the GPE theories of Marxism, feminism and postcolonialism have similarities and differences too. The similarities are based on the main target that the theories seek to achieve. They all need to make individuals aware of the oppression that they go through especially from the state and the structures that have been developed by the state. The theories also critique the orthodox liberalism theory which seeks to explain the political economy of a state. Even though there are similarities between these theories, there are also differences which arise from the different approaches that are used by the theories to achieve their goals.


Allen, D., 2018. Social constructions of self: Some Asian, Marxist, and feminist critiques of dominant Western views of self. In Culture and Self (pp. 3-26). Routledge.

Butler, E., 2015. Classical Liberalism–A Primer. Do Sustainability.

Cockburn, C., 2015. 15| STANDPOINT THEORY. Marxism and feminism, p.1.

Ferree, M.M., 2018. Theories Don’t Grow on Trees”: Contextualizing Gender Knowledge.”. Gender Reckonings: New Social Theory and Research, pp.13-34.

Harding, S., 2015. 32 Postcolonial and Feminist Philosophies of Science and Technology. Postcolonial Studies: An Anthology, p.533.

Hobson, John (2018a) 'Lecture on Realism and Liberalism', Department of Politics.

Hobson, John (2018b) 'Lecture on Marxism', Department of Politics.

Hobson, John (2018c) 'Lecture on Postcolonialism', Department of Politics.

Ryan, A., 2017. Liberalism. A companion to contemporary political philosophy, pp.360-382.

Williams, J.C., 2018. Deconstructing Gender [1989]. In Feminist Legal Theory (pp. 95-123). Routledge.

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