The Handbook on the Political Economy of War
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The Handbook on the Political Economy of War

Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers

By defining political economy and war in the broadest sense, this unique Handbook brings together a wide range of interdisciplinary scholars from economics, political science, sociology, and policy studies to address a multitude of important topics. These include an analysis of why wars begin, how wars are waged, what happens after war has ceased, and the various alternatives to war. Other sections explore civil war and revolution, the arms trade, economic and political systems, and post-conflict reconstruction and nation building. Policymakers as well as academics and students of political science, economics, public policy and sociology will find this volume to be an engaging and enlightening read.
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Chapter 14: The Capitalist Peace

Erich Weede


Erich Weede 14.1 THE CONCEPT AND THE CONTEXT The capitalist peace is a comprehensive idea. It is not limited to assertions that economic freedom or capitalism,1 trade, foreign investment, financial openness or the avoidance of state property ownership promotes peace, but it also includes the democratic peace. If democracy itself is a descendant of economic freedom or a “contract-intensive economy” (Mousseau 2009) and the prosperity generated by it, then the democratic peace becomes a mere component of the capitalist peace. Then capitalism and economic interdependence promote peace by two or even three routes, directly and indirectly, via democracy and, possibly, by common memberships in intergovernmental organizations, too. Admittedly, this argument relies on compiling lots of diverse evidence some of which is still debated in the scientific community (Weede 2005). Not all of it is quantitative, some of it is historical and qualitative. It derives from different disciplines: in particular, economics, sociology and political science. It supports the idea that capitalism is more important than democracy for two reasons. First, without capitalism and the prosperity it promotes, democracy is unlikely to exist. Second, democratic peace theory invites the misconception that one might promote democracy by war. After all, the pacific benefits of democracy did not convince the Taliban or Saddam Hussein that they should retire. By contrast, capitalism expands by the power of successful examples. The Chinese and Vietnamese communist parties accepted it because they were no longer satisfied by equality in poverty. The best thing about economic freedom or...

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