Global Capitalism

Will Hutton, Editor, Anthony Giddens, Editor
Will Hutton, Editor, Anthony Giddens, Editor New Press $24.95 (241p) ISBN 978-1-56584-648-7
Paperback - 241 pages - 978-1-56584-674-6
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Compiled in the aftermath of December 1999--when Seattle protesters surprised the world with a show of antiglobalization activism--this book displays the diversity of ideas driving a growing movement. Edited by London School of Economics director Giddens (Runaway World, Forecasts, March 27) and Hutton (The State We're In), this volume--for better and for worse--lacks a coherent organizing principle as it deals with the effects, both financial and cultural, of globalization. Contributors range from those who primarily oppose globalism to those who are against the very idea of capitalism per se. Most, however, wish to agitate for narrower intellectual and activist goals in this era of multinational corporate power. Essayists (most of whom, like Richard Sennett, Arlie Hochschild and Vandana Shiva, are well known) treat a range of international policy issues: the rise of information technology; the persistence of economic inequality and environmental abuses; women's rights; and individual psychology (e.g., Sennett deals with the dislocation of identity that results from a global culture). Professional capitalists Paul Volcker and George Soros rehearse their critiques of the IMF and assess the lasting effects of the Third World financial crises of 1997 and 1998; Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee delivers, in what is easily the most readable essay here, a critique of ""cultural panic,"" the fear of the globalization of culture (""Sometimes it seems as if a tidal wave of the worst Western culture is creeping across the globe like a giant strawberry milkshake""). Other essays are aimed primarily at policy wonks. On the whole, the book is readable and well researched. Though it doesn't break a lot of new ground, it does provide an intermediate-level survey of the range of leftist ideas circulating these days in response to global capitalism. (Aug.)
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