Tue Sep 25th, 2007 at 07:39:06 PM EST
This is Walden Bello at FPIF, and I couldn't-a said it better:
Development circles were not shocked last year when two studies detailed how the World Bank's research unit had been systematically manipulating data to show that neoliberal market reforms were promoting growth and reducing poverty in developing countries. They merely saw these devastating findings, one by American University Professor Robin Broad, the other by Princeton University Professor Angus Deaton and former International Monetary Fund chief economist Ken Rogoff, as but the latest episode in the collapse of the so-called Washington Consensus.
Bello's article is called "The Post-Washington Dissensus" and eventually he gets to the heart of the matter -- which "we" (the opposition to the neocons and industrial barons, that is) have known for several generations:
[... list of four would-be successor ideologies to the Washington Consensus, which ends with the Global Social Democrats whom he proceeds to critique as follows:]
First of all, it is questionable that the rapid integration of markets and production that is the essence of the globalization can really take place outside a neoliberal framework whose central prescription is the tearing down of tariffs walls and the elimination of investment restrictions. Slowing down and mitigating this inherently destabilizing process, not reversing it, is the global social democratic agenda. That global social democrats have come to terms with the fundamental tendency of global market forces to spawn poverty and inequality is admitted as much by Sachs, who sees social democratic globalization as "harnessing [of] the remarkable power of trade and investment while acknowledging and addressing limitations through compensatory collective action."
Secondly, it is likewise questionable that, even if one could conceive of a globalization that takes place in a socially-equitable framework, this would, in fact, be desirable. Do people really want to be part of a functionally integrated global economy where the barriers between the national and the international have disappeared? Would they not in fact prefer to be part of economies that are susceptible to local control and are buffered from the vagaries of the international economy? Indeed, the backlash against globalization stems not only from the inequalities and poverty it has created but also the sense of people that they have lost all semblance of control over the economy to impersonal international forces. One of the more resonant themes in the anti-globalization movement is its demand for an end to export-oriented growth and the creation of inwardly-oriented development strategies that are guided by the logic of subsidiarity, where the production of commodities takes place at the local and national level whenever that is possible, thus making the process susceptible to democratic regulation.
The Larger Problem
The fundamental problem with all four successors to the Washington Consensus is their failure to root their analysis in the dynamics of capitalism as a mode of production. Thus they fail to see that neoliberal globalization is not a new stage of capitalism, but a desperate and unsuccessful effort to overcome the crises of overaccumulation, overproduction, and stagnation that have overtaken the central capitalist economies since the mid-seventies. By breaking the social democratic capital-labor compromise of the post-World War II period and eliminating national barriers to trade and investment, neoliberal economic policies sought to reverse the long-term squeeze on growth and profitability. This "escape to the global" has taken place against the backdrop of a broader conflict-ridden process marked by renewed inter-imperialist competition among the central capitalist powers, the rise of new capitalist centers, environmental destabilization, heightened exploitation of the South - what David Harvey has called "accumulation by dispossession"- and rising resistance all around.
Globalization has failed to provide capital a escape route from its accumulating crises. With its failure, we are now seeing capitalist elites giving up on it and resorting to nationalist strategies of protection and state-backed competition for global markets and global resources, with the US capitalist class leading the way. This is the context that Jeffrey Sachs and other social democrats fail to appreciate when they advance their utopia: the creation of an "enlightened global capitalism" that would both promote and "humanize" globalization.
Late capitalism has an irreversibly destructive logic. Instead of engaging in the impossible task of humanizing a failed globalist project, the urgent task facing us is managing the retreat from globalization so that it does not provoke the proliferation of runaway conflicts and destabilizing developments such as those that marked the end of the first wave of globalization in 1914.
what he said :-)
"subsidiarity" mentioned in the article is yet another word for relocalisation or devolution: meeting needs and making decisions on the smallest feasible scale. I believe it also implies the doctrine of "affordable exports", i.e. that a community's own local needs should be met insofar as possible from its local resources before it starts exporting resources and incurring dependency for life-support on external powers, i.e. No More Naurus.
just coincidentally :-) (actually not coincidentally, because elegance in design is always multifunctional) this devolution or subsidiarity also reduces considerably the waste of fossil fuels expended on transport, and a smaller scale of operations makes democratic process more workable -- your local PTA is probably more functional and less corrupt than the US Senate or the EU parliament (though I have heard some PTA horror stories in my time).
anyway, food for thought. my quarrel with Bello, here, is that he does not correlate these events and ideas with the collapse of hegemonic and massively centralised industrial Communism, which imho is the 'zact same process in red wrapping paper.
I do wish the WB and IMF would stop pretending -- and fudging the numbers to "prove" -- that bleeding the patient some more is going to cure anaemia. it would be a Molière farce if it didn't mean that real people are really hungry and really dying in real wars and famines.