Capitalist Globalization

Capitalist Globalization: Consequences, Resistance, and Alternatives

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: NYU Press,
Pages: 208
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  • Book Info
    Capitalist Globalization
    Book Description:

    Globalization, surely one of the most used and abused buzzwords of recent decades, describes a phenomenon that is typically considered to be a neutral and inevitable expansion of market forces across the planet. Nearly all economists, politicians, business leaders, and mainstream journalists view globalization as the natural result of economic development, and a beneficial one at that. But, as noted economist Martin Hart-Landsberg argues, this perception does not match the reality of globalization. The rise of transnational corporations and their global production chains was the result of intentional and political acts, decisions made at the highest levels of power. Their aim - to increase profits by seeking the cheapest sources of labor and raw materials - was facilitated through policy-making at the national and international levels, and was largely successful. But workers in every nation have paid the costs, in the form of increased inequality and poverty, the destruction of social welfare provisions and labor unions, and an erratic global economy prone to bubbles, busts, and crises. This book examines the historical record of globalization and restores agency to the capitalists, policy-makers, and politicians who worked to craft a regime of world-wide exploitation. It demolishes their neoliberal ideology - already on shaky ground after the 2008 financial crisis - and picks apart the record of trade agreements like NAFTA and institutions like the WTO. But, crucially, Hart- Landsberg also discusses alternatives to capitalist globalization, looking to examples such as South America's Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) for clues on how to build an international economy based on solidarity, social development, and shared prosperity.

    eISBN: 978-1-58367-355-3
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. 1-4)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. 5-5)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 6-8)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 9-12)

    Times are tough in the United States. Unemployment is high; those with jobs suffer real wage declines and ever greater demands to work harder and longer. Household debt is up and wealth is down. Homelessness is growing. Health care is becoming a luxury. In sum, people are hurting, scared, and increasingly angry. Unfortunately, tough times do not automatically produce a clear understanding of the causes of these problems and the appropriate responses to them.

    I wrote this book for three reasons. First, I wanted to show how and why the capitalist drive for profit has shaped a globalization process that...

  5. Part I: Capitalist Globalization
    • 1 The Internationalization of Production and Its Consequences
      (pp. 13-70)

      We live in a time marked by growing international and national imbalances, instabilities, and inequities. What is not well understood is the connection between these threats to our well-being and contemporary capitalist dynamics.

      Capitalism is not a static system. The levers driving its motion are capital accumulation, competition, and class struggle. Their complex interplay generates pressures and contradictions that compel profit-seeking capitalists to continually reorganize their activities, a process that has profound consequences for our lives. In other words, our social condition is largely shaped by the actions of the leading business organizations.

      Today, these business organizations are transnational corporations....

  6. Part II: The Neoliberal Project and Resistance
    • 2 Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality
      (pp. 71-89)

      Agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and institutions like the World Trade Organization (WTO) have enhanced transnational capitalist power and profits at the cost of increasing economic instability and deteriorating working and living conditions. Despite this reality, neoliberal claims that liberalization, deregulation, and privatization produce unrivaled benefits are repeated so often that many working people accept them as unchallengeable truths. Thus business and political leaders in the United States and other developed capitalist countries routinely defend their efforts to expand the WTO and secure new agreements like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) as necessary...

    • 3 Capitalism, the Korea U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and Resistance
      (pp. 90-130)

      In 2011, the Obama administration overcame the opposition of many U.S. activists to win congressional approval of free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia, and Panama, and U.S. activists are working hard in opposition.¹ FTAs play a very important role in contemporary capitalism, promoting and securing the operation of transnational production networks. Because they establish and reinforce patterns of economic activity that are destructive of majority interests, they should be opposed. At issue is how best to oppose them.

      The goal of this chapter is to contribute to the development of an effective U.S. strategy to defeat FTAs. It...

    • 4 After Seattle: Strategic Thinking about Movement Building
      (pp. 131-156)

      The Seattle anti–World Trade Organization actions have justifiably generated a lot of excitement, renewed political activism, and produced considerable serious discussion on the left about next steps. For the first time in a long time, we are in the position to think and act strategically, with movement building in mind. In what follows, I evaluate the Seattle experience; examine several political initiatives; explore the relationships among issues, campaigns, and movements; and suggest political criteria and a program of action to guide our organizing efforts. My aim is to help achieve the political clarity and unity necessary to realize the...

  7. Part III: Alternatives to Capitalist Globalization
    • 5 Learning from ALBA and the Bank of the South: Challenges and Possibilities
      (pp. 157-176)

      The early twenty-first century is marked by three overlapping developments: the failure of neoliberalism, the exhaustion of the East Asian export-led growth model, and Latin American efforts to advance an alternative regional development strategy. The combination has created a political environment offering important opportunities for those committed to the international struggle to supplant capitalism.

      The failure of neoliberalism to deliver its promised growth has led to the creation of anti-neoliberal political movements throughout Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa. Although a welcome development, their emancipatory potential has remained limited, in part, because many activists and intellectuals continue to draw a sharp...

    • 6 ALBA and the Promise of Cooperative Development
      (pp. 177-198)

      Existing international economic institutions and relations operate in ways detrimental to third world development. That is why eight Latin American and Caribbean countries—led by Venezuela, Cuba, and Bolivia—are working to build the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), a regional initiative designed to promote new, non-market structures and patterns of economic cooperation.¹

      ALBA does this, in part, by providing a framework for member governments to create partnerships between existing national state enterprises as well as new regional public enterprises. The resulting initiatives, although still few in number, have helped member governments strengthen planning capacities, modernize national industrial and...

  8. Notes
    (pp. 199-220)
  9. Index
    (pp. 221-223)