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Pavel Machala

Charles E. Merrill 1908 Professor of Political Science

Departmental affiliations: European Studies; Political Science

Degrees

Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University (1977)
M.A., School of Advanced International Studies, The Johns Hopkins University (1972)
B.A., St Olaf College (1970)

Teaching Interests

I am very much interested in facilitating the understanding of political change today’s societies, both in the United States and in the world at large. My ultimate objective is to make students appreciate the incredible complexities and apparent incomprehensibilities in present-day political life as well as enabling them to recognize the fundamental and secondary forces which shape American foreign policy and international/transnational dynamics. I offer introductory courses on contemporary international relations as well as more advanced courses on international relations theories. My intermediate courses deal with either American diplomacy or with American foreign policy formation. In my upper level seminars I introduce students to the political and social characteristics of the world economy and to marxist theories. My other teaching interests in the field of international relations involve exploring terrorist violence on the part of both state and non-state actors, and in the field of political economy, investigating the role (as well as the impact) of elite liberal arts colleges on global capitalism today. My teaching interests are interdisciplinary, framed on one side by geopolitical analysis and on the other side by an analysis of globalization. They lie at the intersection of four distinct social science disciplines: international relations, foreign policy, political economy and marxist theory.

Research Interests

My main research interest has been to advance ta marxist understanding of world affairs. My hope is that the projects I have been working on will find an audience, not only among interested international relations scholars and students, but also, and more importantly, among those interested in marxist social analysis in general, especially those interested in the contemporary international and transnational dimensions of social life. My ultimate goal is to develop a comprehensive, non-reductionist understanding of the key dynamics in world affairs which integrates geopolitical dynamics and the world economy with foreign policy formations and grass roots support and resistance. For this purpose, I have found Karl Marx’s own works to be eminently useful, but at the same time, deeply frustrating.  I have observed that Marx himself was not merely interested in understanding modernity in terms of economic and social relations at the national and transnational levels, but also in terms of inter-state geopolitical power dynamics and diplomatic relations. Scholars who work within the mainstream of the international relations field are usually not even aware of Marx’s writings on inter-state conflicts. What does exist in Marx’s writings, however, are numerous short and extremely perceptive observations, assertions and hints about the international or global dimensions of capitalism. One can also find in Marx useful, but fragmentary and not fully developed insights into the nature of violence among pre-modern politically organized societies, the nature of national identities in both the pre-modern and the modern worlds, and the role of modern state formations in producing what mainstream international relations literature calls the “national interest.” By analyzing Marx’s views on world affairs, both those generally recognized as marxist and those all-too-often neglected by members of the academy as merely “journalistic,” I argue that together, these views deepen our insight into Marx’s understanding of politically plural humanity through the course of history, and thus, help us to appreciate the role of geopolitics in Marx’s thought. Furthermore, I aim to demonstrate how such a “re-excavated” Marx is both methodologically and theoretically extremely useful to students interested in developing an understanding of world affairs in the 21st century.

Selected Publications

“Polycentric Eurocommunism and Eastern Europe,” in Simon Serfaty (ed.) Foreign Policy of the French Left, Westview Press,

“Eastern Europe, Eurocommunism and Detente,” in Morton Kaplan (ed.) The Many Faces of Communism, Free Press,

“The Polish Coup d’Etat: A Threat To Moscow,” Op Ed page, The New York Times, January 27, 1982

“The Post-Communist State: An Introduction,” Special Issue, PAWSS Perspectives, 1(2) December 1990

“The Post-Communist Democracy: An Uncharted Territory,” PAWSS Perspectives, 1(2)  December 1990

 

Writing in Progress

Marx’s World Affairs (book)

A Marx Reader on Foreign Policy and World Affairs (editor/book)

Global Politics in Contemporary Marxist Perspective (editor/book)