The Political Economy of War and Peace

Anno accademico 2022/2023
Docente Mario Pianta

Didattica integrativa


Modalità d'esame

Relazione di seminario


Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Political Science and Sociology"

Optional for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students of the PhD Programme in "Transnational Governance"

Optional for the 4th and 5th year students of the MA Programme in "Political and Social Sciences"

Programma del corso

Overview of the course

The war in Ukraine has brought military conflict back in Europe. The course addresses the realtionships between States, war, capitalism, the international order, and the prospects for peace, focusing on key concepts and issues, with a political economy perspective.

The relationships between capitalism and war are addressed in different historical contexts, considering the international economic order, the characteristics of the military economy, arms production and civilian-military alternatives in technology and industry.

The political and economic dynamics are examined in the context of the Cold war with the nuclear arms race, and of the new military conflicts in the last thirty years.

The proposals and policies for a peace order, disarmament and alternative security arrangements are examined, alongside the trajectory of peace mobilisations, their international dimension and the role played by peace movements.


Course format

Lectures will provide the basic concepts and analytical tools for understanding the issues of the course.

Students are asked to read the course material and participate in the discussion.



PhD and Master students taking the exam are asked to write a paper – of about 3,000 words - on a course topic. Topics may bridge the background and interests of students with the themes of the course. Exam papers should be highly focused, with a strong logical structure, and may address or combine theory, ideas, empirical evidence and policy issues. Master students can be allowed to write their paper in Italian.




Session N. 1 States, violence, war

12.1.2023, h.14.00-17.00

Required readings

N. Machiavelli, The prince, Penguin, 2011

I. Kant, Perpetual peace: a philosophical sketch, 1795

G. Pontara, The rejection of violence in Gandhian ethics of conflict resolution, Journal of Peace Research 1965 2: 197


Session N. 2 Capitalism and war

13.1.2023, h. 10.00-13.00

Required readings

C. Tilly, War Making and State Making as Organized Crime, in Bringing the State Back In edited by Peter Evans, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, and Theda Skocpol, Cambridge University Press, 1985.

R. Luxemburg,The Accumulation of Capital, Section III, Chapter 32 Militarism as a Province of Accumulation, Routledge, 2003.

J.M. Keynes, The economic consequences of the peace, Macmillan, 1919


Session N. 3 The military economy

17.1.2023, h. 14.00-17.00

Required readings

M. Kaldor, The baroque arsenal, Abacus, 1982, Introdution, ch.1,3, 6, Conclusions

S. Melman, The permanent war economy. American capitalism in decline, Simon & Schuster, 1985, ch.3,7,10.

S. Melman, Problems of Conversion from Military to Civilian Economy: An Agenda of Topics,

Questions and Hypotheses, Bulletin of Peace Proposals , 1985, Vol. 16, No. 1 (1985), pp. 11-19


Session N. 4 Capitalism, the Cold war, the nuclear arms race

18.1.2023, h. 14.00-17.00

Required readings

M. Mann, Capitalism and militarism, in M. Shaw (ed.) War, state and society, Macmillan, 1984.

M. Kaldor, Warfare and capitalism, in Exterminism and cold war, Verso, 1982

E.P. Thompson, Notes on exterminism, the last stage of civilisation; E.P. Thompson, Europe, the weak link in the cold war, in Exterminism and cold war, Verso, 1982

Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation, Appeal for European Nuclear Disarmament, in E.P.Thompson and Dan Smith (Eds): Protest and Survive. A Penguin Special 1980


Session N. 5 New wars, nationalism, civil conflicts

24.1.2023, h.14.00-17.00

with the participation of Prof. Francesco Strazzari, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna, Pisa

Required readings

Woodward, Susan L. "The Inequality of Violence: On the Discovery of Civil War as a Threat to “the North” in the 1990s and the Debate over Causes and Solutions." (2005).

Kaldor, Mary. "In defence of new wars." Stability: International journal of security and development 2.1 (2013).

Leander, Anna. "Wars and the un-making of states: taking Tilly seriously in the contemporary world." Contemporary security analysis and Copenhagen peace research. Routledge, 2003. 85-96.


Session N. 6. A peace order: disarmament and alternative security

25.1.2023, h.14.00-17.00

Required readings

J. Galtung, There are alternatives! Four roads to peace and security, Spokesman, 1984, ch.1,4.

O.Palme Commission, Independent Commission on Disarmament and Security Issues (Palme Commission), Common security: a blueprint for survival, Simon & Schuster, 1982

M. Kaldor et al., A Human Security Doctrine for Europe. The Barcelona Report of the Study Group on Europe’s Security Capabilities, 2004

Olof Palme International Center, International Peace Bureau (IPB), International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), Common Security 2022, For our shared future, 2022.

R. Falk, Power shift. On the new global order, Zed Books, 2016


Session N. 7 Peace movements

31.1.2023, h.14.00-16.00

Required readings

D. Cortright, Peace. A History of Movements and Ideas, Cambridge University Press, 2008

S. Walgrave, D. Rucht (eds),The World Says No to War: Demonstrations against the War on Iraq, Minnesota University Press, 2010, Introduction, Ch.6,7, Conclusions

D. della Porta, et al., Social Movements and Civil War. When Protests for Democratization Fail, Routledge 2018, ch.1,7.

Riferimenti bibliografici