Monday, June 07, 2004

Economic Unorthodoxy: An Interview with Doug Henwood

"Economic Unorthodoxy: An Interview with Doug Henwood"

...DH: There is a fantasy among some people who don’t like present economic conditions that there’s been an innovation they call globalization that has been responsible for economic life taking an unpleasant turn. Capitalism from its onset has been indifferent to borders. It broke out of its regional origins, helped to create national economies and then spread well beyond that. Go back 500 years to European conquest of the Western hemisphere and later with 19th century European conquests of Africa and Latin America – these had a lot to do with the evolution of capitalism. People tend to forget that. They forget that in the late 19th century there were extensive trade relations, cross-border capital flows and gold was a kind of stateless international money that could move around without any sort of passport. There was a sort of de-globalization of capital in the World War I crisis – they tried to put it back together after the war but it didn’t work too well. Then we had a period of depression in the 1930s and war in the 1940s. But as soon as the war was over, the US was busy trying to reconstruct a global economy under its leadership and in its image and interest. All of this talk of globalization masks that history.

Of course there are always differences. The politically dominant role of the US now is not like earlier epochs with great rivalry among the European colonial powers. Now multinational corporations operate in various places around the world, though they aren’t exactly without precedent either. So there are innovations, and it does seem that things move a lot faster than they used to. I just want people to think more carefully about the long history of capitalism’s internationalizing
tendencies that gets occluded by a word like globalization. ...Link

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