cover image Against the World: Anti-Globalism and Mass Politics Between the World Wars

Against the World: Anti-Globalism and Mass Politics Between the World Wars

Tara Zahra. Norton, $35 (400p) ISBN 978-0-393-65196-6

The interwar decades witnessed “a contest over the future of globalization and globalism,” according to this eye-opening history. MacArthur fellow Zahra (The Great Departure) explains that pre-WWI trade expansionism, global mobility, and international social movements provoked simmering resentment among those who felt their political and economic interests were not best served by the new global order. In the war’s aftermath, activists and politicians fueled a drive toward self-sufficient national economies designed to be less vulnerable to exploitation by foreign powers. Central to this drive was “internal colonization,” as seen in the founding of 160 Fascist “New Cities” throughout Italy between 1928 and 1940. On the left, anticolonial activists in India and Ireland boycotted the purchase of English goods, while socialists and progressives in Europe and America advocated for workers’ gardens and back-to-the-land projects to buffer the working classes against the hazards of urbanization and industrialization—a campaign intensified by the Great Depression. Throughout, Zahra embodies these changing dynamics through profiles of such fascinating figures as Czech shoe magnate Tomáš Bat’a, who opened factories and stores in Egypt, India, and Indonesia in the 1930s. Firmly grounded in historical scholarship yet speaking clearly to today’s anxieties over globalization, this expert study has much to offer. Illus. (Jan.)