GLOBAL DREAMS: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order by Richard J. & John Cavanagh Barnet

GLOBAL DREAMS: Imperial Corporations and the New World Order

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A measured, anecdotally documented brief for the proposition that a few hundred corporate leviathans have gained a controlling interest in the world economy -- at no small cost to national and local governments striving to preserve a sense of community. Barnet (The Rockets' Red Glare, 1990, etc.) and Cavanagh (a fellow at Washington's Institute for Policy Studies) make a more complete job of tracking the advances of multinational enterprises than in reckoning the price of such progress. By the numbers, they estimate that roughly one-quarter of the world's productive assets are held by the top 300 firms in Europe, Japan, and the US. In the course of doing business, the authors claim, these companies are integrating the planet and creating a new order. They go on to assert that a handful dominate the Global Village's so-called Cultural Bazaar, Shopping Mall, Workplace, and Financial Network -- ""the four intersecting webs of...commercial activity on which the new world economy largely rests."" Getting down to cases, Barnet and Cavanagh focus on five essentially stateless organizations whose resources allow them to compete with transnational rivals in markets almost anywhere. If not paradigmatic, their choices -- Bertelsmann, Citicorp, Ford Motor, Philip Morris, and Sony -- are at least representative. At any rate, the authors point out that these powerful, innovative juggernauts remain less than accountable to any higher authority. Meanwhile, as economies are drawn closer together, they caution, nation-states and other sociopolitical politics are being pulled apart by post-cold war forces of various sorts. The situation poses many challenges for governments, which can no longer rely on traditional institutions or means to protect their people and territory. Whether humankind can develop a global consciousness that permits it to adapt successfully to altered circumstances, however, strikes the authors as a very open question. Wide-angle perspectives that afford a framework for assessing a widening world's increasingly intertwined economy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0684800276
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster