A Very Short Introduction

eBook - 2003
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This work offers a stimulating introduction to globalisation and its varying impacts across, between, and within societies. It is a readable book that contributes to a better understanding of the crucial aspects and dimensions of the developments and transformations that go by the name of globalisation.
Publisher: Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2003
ISBN: 9780192803597
Characteristics: 1 online resource (147 pages) : illustrations, maps
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Feb 04, 2018

This book explains globalization, surveys some of what has been written, then holds it under logical scrutiny. It also describes how contempory events relate to globalization.

This book was written in 2003 when the Al Qaeda attacks were still foremost on our consciousness. The author opens by deconstructing the video bin Laden released in October of 2001. For all of his bluster about imperialistic globalization, it is clear through not only his accessories (nice Timex) but also the mode his message was delivered through that he and his organization have been direct beneficiaries of the globalization he claims to despise. The author's point isn't so much bin Laden but that very few of us can escape the emerging "globality" that the processes of globalization have led us to.

In the introductory chapter, the author explains the difference between the condition of globality and the processes of globalization. He notes that much of the contemporary writings on the subject have focused on one process to the exclusion of the others, but that they are all part of a whole (the analogy of the blind scholars examining the elephant comes up). This was the hardest chapter to get through out of the whole book. In addition to parsing through existing concepts, he also used some really obtuse language. "Extensity" is a word, but maybe something like "pervasive" would have worked better? And "areas of contestation" wins this month's prize for the most awkward phrasing I have seen in a book. "Contested areas" wouldn't have been appropriate why?

That's the worst thing I can say about the book. He gives an excellent breadown of the history of trade, modernity and emerging globalization. (If you've read "Guns, Germs and Steel", you can just skim this part.) The next chapters break down the economic, political, cultural and ideological dimensions of globalization processes. This was not a straight survey: he asserts and then provides evidence for his contention that the arguments about the benevelonce and inevitability of globalization and its links to free trade, laissez-fair economic policy and democracy are circular at best.

I cringed when I read quotes from New York Times darlings Krugman and Friedman, both of whom assert the inevitability of globalization as some kind of corollary to the Invisible Hand (maybe it's the Invisible Wrist?). Friedman goes on to assert that globalization will, somehow, demand democracy as it works to strengthen economies. Sadly, the Chicago Tribune cites a report by the New Economic Information Service that begs to differ: between 1989 and 1999, the percentage of imports the US purchased from Global South democracies decreased even as the number of such democracies increased. Why? Because dictatorships tend to be less labour- and environment-friendly, thus lowering the costs of production.

The author goes on to discuss the foes of globalization. While they may both equally irritate large transnational corporations, Pat Buchanan is a particularist protectionist and Ralph Nader is a universalist protectionist (or he was before his most recent book). Both are American examples, but there are multiple varieties of each in every country.

The author notes at the outset that he is critical of the path globalization has followed over the last four decades, but not critical of globalization or globality itself. He ends the book with the hope that some of the benefits of globalization can be enjoyed by the Global South. Unfortunately, this was written before the Iraq War; global equity has been the least of the Global North's concerns.

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