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That Noble Dream of Somewhere Else


Prasanta Chakravarty

THE GLOBALIZATION DECADE: A CRITICAL READER
Edited by Leo Panitch , Colin Leys, Alan Zuege and Martin Konings
Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 325, Rs. 750.00

MODERNITY, GLOBALIZATION AND IDENTITY: TOWARD A REFLEXIVE QUEST
By Avijit Pathak
Aakar Books, New Delhi, 2006, pp. 175, Rs. 125.00

THE COLLAPSE OF GLOBALISM AND THE REINVENTION OF THE WORLD
By John Ralston Saul
Penguin Books, Delhi, 2005, pp. 309, Rs. 395.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 6 June 2006

Globalization has become a catchall phrase for the past two decades. Economists, political scientists and cultural critics alike have described the phenomenon of globalization in many different ways. The three works under review try to confront the issue and propose alternative approaches to living.   The globalization reader has been assembled largely by the editors of the Socialist Register, one of the foremost left academic journals published from North America. Consequently, the theoretical framework of the analysts is Marxian. But in keeping with the best traditions of the new left, there have been two departures: one, since the subject at hand is globalization, the emphasis is more on relations of production rather than on forces of production. In fact, the whole production question is kept at bay by concentrating more on issues of exchange and commodification in relation to globalization. The contributors emphasize ad nauseum that their location of investigation is primarily political rather than economic, although most of them deal with a certain kind of a post-Keynesian economic model that contemporary forces of globalization pursue.   The second important trope that marks these essays is an insistence on the nation/state as the terrain of the political. The objective is to move beyond the disembodied versions of pure economic and technological globalization and foreground the issue of political choice, especially accounting for domestic policy making at the level of the state. Consequently, the authors analyse the erosion of autonomous domestic bases of accumulation and nationalist forces and the concomitant transformation of the structures of political representation within the state. The authors emphasize that the nation states have increasingly abandoned their former role as a welfare body that used to take its social responsibilities seriously. This is what the editors, in their introductory note, call the ‘internationalization of the state’. This entails a reordering of the different governmental departments in favour of mediating relations with the world economy at the cost of overlooking its primary assignments of education, public health, employment, social services and so forth. This leads to a fragmentation of the state, linked with the rise of trans-governmental regulatory networks. International competitiveness and its demands regulate the various branches of the state. The nation state is not withering away. Far from it, the state constantly makes important policy choices—economic and social—and reorients the society in a certain direction. The issues of globalization then have to be negotiated first ...


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