Peter Gowan, author of The Global Gamble and regular contributor to the New Left Review, died on Friday. A brief report is here, and a statement from his family here.
This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 16th, 2009 @ 7:43 am on the category dsw.
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This is terrible news! Gowan was one of the most prominent Marxist international relations theorists and a invaluable contributor to debates over US empire. His bleakly cynical analysis cut through so much of the waffle written about international relations, whether the blandishments of liberal enthusiasts of ‘global governance’ under US/EU leadership or wide-eyed idealists hoping that ‘globalisation’ would generate utopian transformations. He helped bring radical analysis in IR back to the terrain of geo-politics, away from the nebulousness exemplified by Negri and Hardt and towards a focus on the actual contours and structures of American power. A real blow for radical British IR and a great loss to independent thought in the UK academy.
You must have known on Tuesday I suppose, but didn’t know I know him (I’ve just seen this). I was, for a time, Peter’s protege in the IMG and that’s how I ended up on the NLR ec for a while. He was immensely knowledgeable and a great talker. Very keen on conspiracy theories — especially concerning the identity of Jack the Ripper and a royal connection. Terrible cook, terrible driver. His analysis of politics was always driven very much by “cui bono?” The man on Eastern European opposition movements for many years (through LFEE) and friends with all kinds of emigres (who would always insist on leaving doors open, he told me, so as not to be surprised). Always had bronchitis. Sadly, we fell out over the split in the NLR. As far as Peter was concerned Perry Anderson was always going to be top man, and one might as well recognize that. I don’t think we spoke again after the split, and, of course, I’m regretting that now.