The Enigma of Globalisation: A Journey to a New Stage of Capitalism

The Enigma of Globalisation: A Journey to a New Stage of Capitalism

The Enigma of Globalisation: A Journey to a New Stage of Capitalism

The Enigma of Globalisation: A Journey to a New Stage of Capitalism

Synopsis

Globalization is theorized in this book as an emerging new stage of capitalism. Robert Went takes the reader on a journey from the historical roots of globalization through to its relevance in the modern day.

Excerpt

Unsatisfied with quantitative comparisons of figures on trade and financial flows as a means of contrasting contemporary globalization with earlier historical periods, globalization is theorized in this book as a new stage of capitalism. With that aim the chapters interweave threads from three fields: the history of economic thought, economic history and international political economy.

A brief survey of economists’ debates over globalization in Chapter 1 is followed by three chapters, each of which takes nineteenth-century ideas and theories as their starting points and gradually develops these ideas’ relevance for our understanding of contemporary globalization. They are organized around three central concepts: international trade (Chapter 2), the combination of free trade with international movement of capital (Chapter 3), and the interconnection and internationalization of the three circuits of capital: trade, finance and production (Chapter 4).

Since the internationalization of trade, finance and production is neither linear nor symmetrical - and because globalization is after all a child of the capitalist economic system - globalization is then conceived as a new stage of capitalism in the next two chapters. Chapter 5 takes up three theories of stages - long waves, the Regulation approach, Social Structures of Accumulation - that were developed in the 1970s. After a delineation of their convergences and divergences a synthesis of these three theories is proposed. The final chapter brings all the threads together and also discusses three scenarios for the future development of the global economy.

Although I am of course solely responsible for the final result and for any mistakes, this work owes a great deal to many colleagues, comrades, friends and adversaries from various walks of life. Since the mid-1990s both academic interest and social movements have fuelled and crossfertilized my fascination for the development and consequences of economic globalization. I find this a fruitful combination, since scientific puzzles about the driving forces behind and dynamics of globalization are equally relevant to the question how a different world can be envisaged. This dual source of inspiration has also allowed me to write and lecture for and discuss with varied audiences, and test and debate ideas and hypotheses with both academics and people involved in social movements.

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