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The New Globalization in an Age of Terror, Big Money, and Economic Crisis

by Charles Derber

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2002
ISBN: 0-312-30669-5
Publisher: St. Martin's

An optimistic critique of globalization from Derber (Sociology/Boston Coll.; Corporation Nation, not reviewed).

Despite the bluster of its proponents, the course of globalization is neither safe, democratic, nor economically secure, says Derber. This isn’t because the system is inherently flawed or, as Thomas Friedman has it, outside of human intervention. Derber contends that globalization has within it the groundwork for a worldwide constitutional system that would allow active participants to think globally and act locally, pursue the basic set of human rights outlined in the UN Declaration of 1948, and seize the constitutional moment—aided by the technological innovation of instant global communication—at a time when “making history is a realistic prospect for ordinary people, as they find themselves caught up in seismic struggles over the basic rules of the world they inhabit.” Today’s globalization need be no more profit-driven, US-managed, or consumerist than, say, colonialism or the Gilded Age were socially flawed—those being examples of the fact that world systems have been with us since the beginning—if, as in Derber’s scheme, a limited mega-government oversees global rights, with citizen-controlled national governments protecting participatory democracy on the local level and enforcing socially accountable global business standards. Obvious areas of reform include the antidemocratic, shadow governments of the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization—though be it said that Derber is no conspiracy theorist, more a time-honored Social Democrat—as well as the tempering of the power grab by the US Fundamental in moving globalization toward democracy is an informed, traveled, abolitionist, green, active citizenry, keen-eyed to all antidemocratic institutions and to interventionism and unilateralism. The effort “will involve engaging citizens not only in free and fair elections, but in active participation in local, national, and global politics through civic, grassroots, labor, feminist, and public-interest associations.”

Derber wants long-term stability, where accountability starts at and proceeds from the individual guided by the basic tenets of human decency.