Worlds Apart: Civil Society and the Battle for Ethical Globalization

Worlds Apart: Civil Society and the Battle for Ethical Globalization

Worlds Apart: Civil Society and the Battle for Ethical Globalization

Worlds Apart: Civil Society and the Battle for Ethical Globalization


• A balanced introduction to civil society that calls for ethical globalization to benefit the world's poor

• Presents insider perspectives from both the World Bank and NGOs

• Challenges civil society organizations to redress today's injustices and transform global relations

• Author of six books including the best-selling Democratizing Development

Globalization is one of the most charged political battlegrounds of our age. Its advocates say it is an engine for universal prosperity, while its critics see it as a race to the bottom for poor people and poor countries. Worlds Apart casts polemics aside and fairly and respectfully interprets both sets of arguments. While not a search for a middle ground, it unashamedly emphasizes the injustices of widening inequalities and stacked odds in world trade and finance.

Clark argues that civil society faces a distinct opportunity to drive global change in an ethical direction. He argues that the search for a more humane management of global affairs should ultimately focus on promoting growth, inclusion, and narrowing the socioeconomic gap across states and peoples.


Politicians, economists, business leaders, and right-of-center journalists angrily berate those who protest against globalization for peddling ridiculous notions that are anti-progress, anti-poor, and simply not realistic. I tend to agree. But I wonder how many of them there are. Most of those I have spoken to, the leaders of the main groups opposed to the current order, are not arguing against globalization, but against a way of managing world affairs that puts business before people, trade before development, that is blind to widening gaps in wealth and power, and that ignores today's buildup of environmental and sectarian problems. They are not latter-day Luddites, but people who seek social justice—leaving aside for the present whether or not their ideas would work.

Similarly, those who criticize the status quo often construct a grotesque parody of the policies advanced by international organizations and governments in order to make the task of condemning them easier. Most of these agencies try to promote policies that are for the common good, not just for the few—though it isn't always easy to ensure that opportunities are equally taken up, and governments of large countries often have difficulty seeing beyond their frontiers.

Both sides in this debate either don't understand, or won't listen to, what the other is saying. Worlds Apart tries to bridge this divide and seeks to be fair to each. It gets behind the polemics to look at the issues through the lens of poor people and poor countries. It is not a search for a middle ground—I am closer to the critics of the present order than its defenders—but a search for an ethical management of world affairs that promotes enterprise and growth, that reduces barriers between peoples and countries, and that ensures everyone shares in these opportunities.

Worlds Apart assesses how citizens' pressure—through a myriad of civil society channels—has shaped the debate about globalization and indeed fundamentally changed the political landscape. But it also looks at how the same forces and opportunities that have changed the worlds of business and economics are also transforming civil society. Organizations that once worked just at the national level are now global in scope, and transnational citizens networks are transforming debate on international issues.

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