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Capitalism, Revolution and War: The Making of the Modern World Order


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA International Relations. Students who are interested in taking this course, but who are not admitted to the mentioned master programmes are requested to contact the co-ordinator of studies.


The purpose of this course is to give students a critical historical and theoretical perspective on the formation of the modern social and international system. We shall discuss three key and interrelated themes, each of which is central to problematizing and historicizing the making of the modern world order: capitalism, revolution and war.

Karl Polanyi writes that capitalism stands for a ‘particular rupture’ in human history, a break marked by fundamental changes in the nature of society and economy. Similarly, industrialization, according to Eric Hobsbawm, ‘marks the most fundamental transformation of human life in the history of the world recorded in written documents’. Therefore, for International Relations (IR), the importance of capitalism and industrialization lies not just in the emergence of new technologies for war-making and state-making, but also in the profound social and international transformations, dislocations and rebellions which capitalism and industrialization brought about. In this regard, Fred Halliday is certainly right in arguing that revolutions are one of the main engines of modern international transformation. In short, capitalism, revolution and war have impacted the origins and expansion of the modern social and international order in unprecedented ways, hence central to a deeper understanding of some of the most burning issues in the contemporary world order, such as the crisis of democracy, crisis of environment and crisis of ‘development’.

The course will therefore promote a critical appreciation of social forces in the historical and contemporary making of the modern world. Special attention will be paid to the question/analysis of:

  • Modern state-formation;

  • Capitalism’s origins and expansion;

  • Revolution, hegemony and modernity in and outside the West;

  • Fascism, capitalism and geopolitics: Understanding the Interwar Years;

  • the Cold War and ‘Embedded Liberalism’;

  • From the ‘developmental state’ to ‘Embedded Neoliberalism’;

  • The rise of China and the possibility of a post-American world order;

  • Neoliberal authoritarianism and populism: From the Arab Spring to Brexit;

  • Capitalism and the Global Environmental Crisis;

  • Artificial Intelligence, Surveillance Capitalism and Human Emancipation.

Course objectives



The timetable is available on the website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Course Load

Assessment method


Oral presentation
class participation
Weekly summaries:
Paper Proposal:
End of term paper:


Oral presentation 15%,
class participation 15%
Weekly summaries: 5%
Paper Proposal: 15%
End of term paper: 50%


inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for this course

Reading list



Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


Dr. E. Duzgun