globalisation

Economy Class: The myths of globalisation

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Companies still rely on states to protect their profits


Complex supply chains give groups of workers a lot of power to halt production


Globalisation emerged as a fashionable concept in the years after the ending of the Cold War. Neoliberalism had established itself as the new economic orthodoxy in the West during the 1980s, preaching the need for privatisation and attacks on the welfare state.

With the disintegration of the Soviet Union, champions of neoliberalism declared "the end of history", expecting an end to any systemic opposition to capitalism. Globalisation was to sweep the free market, unfettered and unregulated, into former "communist" countries and beyond.

A region transformed

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The Arab Spring has been marked by a series of momentous events that herald the beginning of an era of revolutionary change. The uprisings have transformed in weeks and months a region mired in decades of political stagnation. The revolutions contain the possibility of growing over to an even more radical social change. To understand this potential we have to examine the deep social changes that have transformed the Arab world, but this requires breaking with many of the ideas that have dominated our understanding of the region.

For many people the Arab revolutions are simply a "correction" in the struggle against imperialism. The overthrow of Ben Ali of Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Ali Saleh of Yemen have struck deep blows to imperialism. The uprising in Bahrain, which pits a disenfranchised population against a US and Saudi client regime, is seen in the same light.

Do workers still have power?

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Julie Sherry argues that the working class still has the power to change society.

When I was nine I asked my mum why the world was so unfair. It seemed to me that "the people in charge" were making mistakes. You can imagine my anxiety when she suggested the people in charge weren't concerned with the things they ought to be, like public welfare.

State of dependence

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The era of globalisation meant that national states would have no role in modern capitalism. This was a myth accepted by many, left and right. Mark L Thomas argues this was never the case and looks at the impact of recent state interventions to rescue the free market.

When Alistair Darling, the chancellor, put £37 billion into three British banks, effectively part-nationalising them, in mid-October in the hope of stabilising the banking system, it capped a remarkable few weeks. Here were New Labour, champions of the free market and the City of London, doing something Old Labour had never dared. This happened just days after the return of that arch-neoliberal Peter Mandelson to the cabinet and was all done with the backing of the party of Margaret Thatcher.

Globalisation, Democracy and Terrorism

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Eric Hobsbawm, Little, Brown, £17.99

There can be few consolations for being 90 years old, but a long-term perspective on history is one of them. In this collection of articles and lectures from the last decade Eric Hobsbawm rounds off his splendid (though sometimes flawed) histories of the 19th and 20th centuries with a look at the factors that will shape the 21st.

The End of Subsidies Will Not Solve Poverty

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Cutting state aid to farmers in the North could make matters worse for those in the South.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial conference in Hong Kong is over. The 14 political prisoners, mainly Korean farmers arrested during a protest against the Hong Kong agreement, have been released, although three of them will be prosecuted. And, it would seem, the WTO became just that little bit better, by addressing a charge frequently laid by its critics - the WTO is a fig leaf for a kind of agricultural imperialism.

Global Faultlines

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Chris Harman identifies three problems facing global capitalism.

The ruling classes of mainland Europe are now trying to recover from the shock which hit them in the early summer. Their central project of pushing through neo-liberalism was thrown into crisis by the No vote in the French and Dutch referendums.

Since the referendum all leaders of the European Union's mainstream parties have repeated the same refrain. Europe's economies, they say, have no future unless the mass of people are prepared to work harder, and for lower wages and pensions in order to cope with 'the challenge from India and China'.

Fight the Power

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Noam Chomsky speaks to Ian Rappel about resisting the G8.

The G8 are coming to Scotland in July, and they've put forward what appears to be a progressive agenda on Africa, Third World debt and global warming. But what in your opinion is the US, under George W Bush, looking to get out of the G8 summit?

The End of Poverty?

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We can make poverty history, but not if we accept the logic of market liberalization.

Make Poverty History is going to pull vast numbers to Edinburgh the Saturday before the G8 opens in Scotland next month. They will be living testimony to the enormous feeling over world poverty, particularly in Africa. They will also show how much things have moved on since the time of Band Aid, when the single message was one of charity. Now it is one which involves calls for political action on debt, trade and aid.

Just Call My Number

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Tales of call centre jobs disappearing to India are not the whole story.

Just how serious is the threat of a call centre jobs stampede to India? Over the past few months the media has been full of stories of a wholesale jobs exodus from British call centres - an ideal cue for film crews to descend on Hyderabad or Bangalore and gush about what a wacky old world we are living in when Asian university graduates need to be clued up about EastEnders and learn to talk like Rex Harrison.

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