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Globalization, Democracy and Capitalism in the 21st Century


Nayantara Shaunik

TOWARD A GEOPOLITICS OF HOPE
William H. Thornton and Songok Han Thornton
Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2012, pp. 276, £39.99

VOLUME XXXVII NUMBER 6 June 2013

At first glance, one cannot help but overlook the idiom ‘never judge a book by its cover’, and, quite rightly so. If the title of Toward a Geopolitics of Hope intrigues, the provocative stance and ideas presented throughout the tome do not fail to deliver either. Introducing a theoretical framework of ‘moral realism’ to address a world increasingly mired by the threat of a ‘New Cold War’ where values will primarily define conflicts, alliances, and geopolitical interests; the authors of Toward a Geopolitics of Hope conclude that this rationale is the critical way forward. The authors, both professors of global and cultural studies at National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan, substantiate their argument in a chapter-by-chapter analysis of momentous developments pertaining to Russia, China, Tibet, India, Burma/Myanmar, and the Arab world post 1991, the implications of which will probably define the future course of global politics. Steeping their reasoning of these contemporary issues in a historical and theoretical context, the duo develop intricate connections within their ‘post-globalist’ assessment, which is hard-hitting and extremely topical, if not largely accurate.   The tome begins by discussing the relative decline of the US, which has had profound ideological ramifications. The author duo’s central argument is simple: contrary to the analyses of neoliberal theorists such as Francis Fukuyama, democracy and globalization, spurred on by capitalism, are not two sides of the same coin. Developments in China remain a case in point.   Indeed, globalization itself has been the greatest impetus to authoritarian capitalists. Bearing in mind the western democratic experiment, repressive values prevalent in the domain of Asian exceptionalism were considered a passing ‘illiberal’ phase. What was initially perceived as closely resembling the undemocratic character of ‘early western capitalism’, however, began to look like a permanent aspect of 21st century development. Whilst capitalism has grown exponentially across the countries of the world, democracy in the view of the authors is on the decline.   Global capitalism encompasses within itself the paradigm of intra-capitalism pushed by Leftist and Rightist ideologies. An interesting point that the authors make in this regard is the fact that the ideological crisis is present even within the liberal camp, wherein (neo)liberal economics ‘erodes the material and spiritual foundations of political liberalism’. The lure of unprecedented profits, and the belief that vigorous capitalism is a precursor to progressive politics has ensured that the West has so far continued to largely overlook warning signs ...


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