The global and the political.

Author:Joseph, Jonathan
Position:The False Dilemma: Globalization: Opportunity or Threat; The Limits of Capitalism. An Approach to Globalization Without Neoliberalism; Naming the Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization; Globalization and Social Change - Book Review

Oscar Ugarteche The False Dilemma: Globalization: Opportunity or Threat

Zed, London, 2000, pp. xvi+240.

ISBN 1-85649-690-2 (pbk) 14.95 [pounds sterling]; ISBN 1-85649-689-9 (hbk) 45.00 [pounds sterling]

Wim Dierckxsens The Limits of Capitalism. An Approach to Globalization Without Neoliberalism

Zed, London, 2000, pp.x+170.

ISBN 1-85649-869-7 (pbk) 14.95 [pounds sterling]; ISBN 1-85649-868-9 (hbk) 45.00 [pounds sterling]

Amory Starr Naming the Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization

Zed and Pluto, London and Annandale, Australia, 2000, pp. xvi+268.

ISBN 1-85649-792-5 (pbk) 16.95 [pounds sterling]; ISBN 1 85649-764-X (hbk) 49.95 [pounds sterling]

Johannes Dragsbaek Schmidt and Jacques Hersh (eds) Globalization and Social Change

Routledge, London, 2000, pp.xv+302. ISBN 0-415-25171-5 (hbk)

These four books examine the globalisation process from different angles. Oscar Ugarteche's book has the strongest economic focus, examining the economic impact of globalisation on Latin America. The other three books will be discussed in relation to more political and theoretical issues.

For Ugarteche the root of the current crisis lies in productivity problems among the G7 countries. The fall in the productivity of the advanced capitalist economies is causing technological changes and competition. Technology advances international competitiveness by bringing in just-in-time delivery and client specific products.

The book, taking an economic perspective, defines globalisation as growth in economic activity that transcends national and regional boundaries, with a growing movement of goods and services through trade and investment, driven by individual actors under pressure from competition. The essence of the discussion on globalisation is about the integration of the markets for goods, services, capital and labour.

Ugarteche argues that the economic framework of globalisation and neo-liberalism is forcing the South to integrate into the global economy through exportled growth. He argues that this need not be so, and that what is needed instead is a strong interventionist state and development of the internal market.

In Latin America, globalisation works for imports but not for the national productive apparatus or exports (p. 180). Latin American countries have applied structural adjustment policies based on the neoclassical theory of market perfection. They have not undertaken Asian-style land distribution policies, impeding the growth of the domestic market. Import substitution has been oriented towards light industry. In an interesting comparison between Latin America and South East Asian economies it is shown how Latin American countries are dependent on banks and transnational companies, whereas the Asian economies depend more on foreign aid and trade. The success of the Asian economies is related to the interventionist role of the state and participation in investment capital.

As with the other books, there is an awareness of the problems in defining globalisation. This affects decisions as to whether countries on the periphery should transnationalise or whether they should simply decide that globalisation is not for them. The book contains some theoretical discussions, in particular of French regulationist theory and the view of globalisation in terms of different regimes of accumulation. At the same time, globalisation is described as an overworked term that can mean the universalising of neoliberalism, or transnationalism or the expansion of capital depending on the theoretical school. Ugarteche's own comment on globalisation is useful though--that it is impossible to think of globalisation without some previous reference to competitiveness (p. 197).

Towards the end the book also looks at some political movements like campaigns to cancel debt and examines some political demands for debt reduction and economic policies which place an emphasis on the role of state within a new international framework. Such political issues will be looked at in relation to the next three books.

Wim Dierckxsens' book aims to demonstrate that there are alternatives to neoliberal globalisation and that there is the possibility of constructing globalisation without neoliberalism. Whether this is possible again depends on bow we understand globalisation. The problem is that separating globalisation and neoliberalism in this way, suggests that globalisation has an independent logic rather than being constituted, socially and historically, by neoliberal practice.

Globalisation is said to involve an economic dispute for the world market waged by transnational corporations. At the same time there has been a shift of investments (FDI) towards non-productive activities resulting in diminished economic dynamism and slowed annual growth rates...

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