Globalization - To What End?

Harry Magdoff


The new stage of globalisation has given rise to questions about its longer-run significance. A widely accepted theory visualises the erosion of national sovereignty at the centres of capitalism, presumably to be replaced by an 'international' of capital that will make and enforce the rules of international relations. The more thoughtful members of the ruling capitalist class are well aware how chimerical the notion of a rising international of capital is. It is true that in view of the growing complexity and the many pitfalls in the world of global finance, they seek ways to strengthen, or create new, international institutions which can help to minimise the potential chaos they face. But as much as the need is understood in the abstract, and as many steps as have been taken in the hope of greater cooperation, there is no letup in the drive of nations to acquire more power and wealth. The upshot is that the speeded-up globalisation of recent years has not led to harmony. On the contrary, as we will try to show, it is itself a product of growing disharmony. Contrary to widespread expectations, sources of tension among the leading capitalist powers have increased side by side with their growing interdependence. Nor has the geographic spread of capital reduced the contradictions between the rich and poor nations. Although a handful of third-world countries, benefiting from the globalisation process, have made noteworthy progress in industrialisation and trade, the overall gap between core and periphery nations has kept on widening.

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