The Market or the Public Domain? Global Governance and the Asymmetry of Power

The Market or the Public Domain? Global Governance and the Asymmetry of Power

The Market or the Public Domain? Global Governance and the Asymmetry of Power

The Market or the Public Domain? Global Governance and the Asymmetry of Power

Synopsis

This text examines the powerful idea of the return, reconstitution and redeployment of the public domain in a post-Seattle and post-Washington consensus world order.

Excerpt

Daniel Drache

This volume is about 'after the triumph', a short-hand for a much larger and more powerful idea, namely, the return, reconstitution and redeployment of the public domain in a post-Seattle and post-Washington consensus world order (Williamson 1990, 1999). The emergence of the global economy with its predilection for market fundamentals, tough zero-inflation bench-marking, an unstoppable political dynamic of one worldism and silence on the need for an expansive notion of the public sphere is unquestionably the watershed event of our times. The meta-narrative of globalization has no rivals as the last grand political discourse of the twentieth century and if we understand anything about the endless capacity of the globalization narrative to reinvent itself in a new guise when conditions demand it, today is one of those defining moments. A new kind of state is emerging with its own particular institutions, practices and innovative forms (Held 1995; Castells 1996). Yet after the battle in Seattle, the future prospects of 'market fundamentalism' are increasingly troubled. A turning point has been reached in the debate over the rising costs and elusive benefits of globalization (Millennium 2000).

The once solid fundamentals now face a doubting chorus composed of professional experts and loud and insistent highly articulate critics from civil society about the policy processes that occur outside the present reach of the nation-state. As times have changed, the policy capitals of the world have adopted a new rhetoric of poverty reduction, equity and strengthening the role of the state in economic management. The distancing from the old consensus is quite stark and unmistakable (Birdsall and de la Torre 2000). Take just one measure. John Williamson, the economist who first coined the term the Washington consensus, is no longer an unqualified partisan supporter of its efficiency pro-market advocacy. He joins the distinguished company of other leading economists, such as Joseph Stiglitz, John Helliwell, Paul Krugman, Sylvia Ostry and Dani Rodrik, who have publicly expressed strongly dissenting views about its rigid policy prescription and one-worldism (Naim 2000).

This public soul-searching has given the tough structural adjustment goals of the Washington consensus a human face and spawned a moderate vision of reformism among policy insiders. The new policy objectives include: poverty-reduction, improving equity and building socially inclusive societies, heading the

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