Thursday, February 23, 2006

Neoliberalism, Globalization, Ethnic Hatred

A Brief History of Neoliberalism
Oxford University Press, 2005
David Harvey, The City Univ. of New York

Neoliberalism--the doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action--has become dominant in both thought and practice throughout much of the world since 1970 or so.

Its spread has depended upon a reconstitution of state powers such that privatization, finance, and market processes are emphasized. State interventions in the economy are minimized, while the obligations of the state to provide for the welfare of its citizens are diminished. David Harvey, author of The New Imperialism and The Condition of Postmodernity, here tells the political-economic story of where neoliberalization came from and how it proliferated on the world stage. While Thatcher and Reagan are often cited as primary authors of this neoliberal turn, Harvey shows how a complex of forces, from Chile to China and from New York City to Mexico City, have also played their part. In addition he explores the continuities and contrasts between neoliberalism of the Clinton sort and the recent turn towards neoconservative imperialism of George W. Bush. Finally, through critical engagement with this history, Harvey constructs a framework not only for analyzing the political and economic dangers that now surround us, but also for assessing the prospects for the more socially just alternatives being advocated by many oppositional movements.

WORLD ON FIRE: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability

Amy Chua, Yale University

Every few years, a book is published about America's role in the world and the changing contest of global affairs that gets everyone thinking in a new way. Amy Chua's WORLD ON FIRE will have exactly that kind of impact on the debate of how the world has changed in light of the events of last September.

Apostles of globalization, such as Thomas Friedman, believe that exporting free markets and democracy to other countries will increase peace and prosperity throughout the developing world; Amy Chua is the anti-Thomas Friedman. Her book wil be a dash of cold water in the face of globalists, techno-utopians, and liberal triumphalists as she shows that just the opposite has happened: When global markets open, ethnic conflict worsens and politics turns ugly and violent.

Drawing on examples from around the world--from Africa and Asia to Russia and Latin America--Chua examines how free markets do not spread wealth evenly throughout the whole of these societies. Instead they produce a new class of extremely wealthy plutocrats--individuals as rich as nations. Almost always members of a minority group--Chinese in the Philippines, Croatians in the former Yugoslavia, whites in Latin America, Indians in East Africa, Jews in post-communist Russia--these "market-dominant minorities" have become targets of violent hatred. Adding democracy to this volatile mix unleashes supressed ethnic hatreds and brings to power ethnonationalist governments that pursue aggressive policies of confiscation and revenge. Chua further shows how individual countries are often viewed as dominant minorities, explaining the phenomena of ethnic resentment in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the rising tide of anti-American sentiment around the world. This more than anything accounts for the visceral hatred of Americans that has been expressed in recent acts of terrorism.

Bold and original, WORLD ON FIRE is a perceptive examination of the far-reaching effects of exporting capitalism with democracy and its potentially catastrophic results.

After Neoliberalism, What?, Dani Rodrik, Harvard University

Understanding Financial Globalization, Andrew Walter, London School of Economics and Political Science


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