Much of the anti-globalization movement has had one trait in common that I can’t quite explain–they mostly seem to think that despite the inevitability of capitalism to tend towards globalization in its current form, and despite the fact that globalization’s problems are the results of the problems of capitalism extended to a global macro level,  they intentionally avoid the question of whether private ownership of capital is the cause, and consequently avoid any discussions of socialism in their solution.  Many of their solutions are simply localized, small-level capitalist solutions, or some level of the welfare state.  For example:

Noreena Hertz says in her book, The Silent Takeover: Global Capitalism and the Death of Democracy:

“My argument is not intended to be anticapitalist.  Capitalism is clearly the best system for generating wealth, and free trade and open capital markets have brought unprecedented economic growth to most if not all of the world.  Nor is the book intended to be antibusiness.  Corporations are not amoral but, I will argue, they are morally ambivalent.  In fact, under certain market conditions, business is more able and willing than government to take on many of the world’s problems [emphasis mine]” (Hertz, 12).

Notice the assumptions and lack of analysis here.  She (1) assumes that capitalism is the most efficient wealth generating system (look up the economists Thorstein Veblen, and neo-Marxists Paul Baran and Paul Sweezy if you would like to see critiques), (2) that the distribution of wealth is negligibly important, and (3) ignores the role capitalism has played in the erosion of government willingness to take on global problems.

David C. Korten, in his otherwise excellent book, When Corporations Rule the World, says:

“With regard to political values, I remain a traditional conservative in the sense that I retain a deep distrust of large institutions and their concentratrions of unaccountable power.  I also continue to believe in te important of the market and private ownership” (19), and “the problem is not business or the merket per se but a badly corrupted global economic system that is gyrating far beyond human control” (23).

Some of his non-socialist social changes are worth note.  I’ll mention a few and their page numbers.  He advocates taxes on financial transactions and capital gains (271), regulation of derivatives (272), enforcement of antitrust laws (272), modify intellectual property right laws (274-75), and require annual profit payout to shareholders (274), among other things.  In addition, society should guarantee a minimum floor of income (276), progressive income and consumption taxes (276), and a more equitable pay (277).  In short, some sort of kindhearted welfare capitalism seems to prevail.

Similarly, Sackrey, Schneider, and Knoedler’s Introduction to Political Economy advocates some sort of Swedish ‘middle way’–i.e. some sort of welfare capitalism, to solve the problems of free market economics.  They say:

“Thus the experiences of Sweden demonstrate the possibility of a “Middle Way” between unregulated capitalism and command communism:  social democracy . . . Sweden proved that a country can maintain full employment, be efficient and productive, and give all citizens the right to decent levels of food, clothing, health care, to a job, and to some control over their lives” (243).

Other books and authors recommend some sort of relocalization of the economy–such as (at least at face value) every author in The Case Against the Global Economy.

The consensus, I suppose, is this: “Globalization has caused harms X, Y, and Z, through unmitigated capitalist development of wealth and power.  I don’t advocate socialism, i.e. state ownership of the economy and/or redistribution of wealth, but I think the solution can be developed through a (more or less) relocalized welfare capitalist state.”

The problem with the relocalized capitalist state idea begins with both the questions (1) given the current system, how are you going to get there (i.e. a practical question of means) and (2) if these problems are caused by the laws of capitalist development, and the problems are solved in proportion to the regulation of capitalism/ists, why isn’t a complete redirection of the means of wealth generation in society through change in ownership on the top of your priorities list?

Concerning question (1), the concensus among the antiglobalization movement is that global capital has unprecedented global power, privilege, wealth, and influence, that allows them to dominate life on Earth.  Moving relatively laissez faire capitalist states to some form of relocalized welfare capitalism will erode capitalists existant power–facing perpetual opposition from the powers-that-be.  Furthermore, the maintenance of such a state is extremely difficult, due to deregulation pressures and capital strikes.  In Sackrey et. al., they note of Sweden, “In general, the econmic performance of Sweden deteriorated after 1970 due to a number of factors, including globalization, industrial decline, and the aging of the popuilation . . . [and] these forces–global competition in traditional manufacturing, the flight of transnational corporations to the developing world, and the aging of the population–have presented problems throughout the developed world” (232).  In the globalized economy, the fact that the forces that generate wealth, i.e. capital, are privately owned and increasingly global and mobile, prevents the long-term sustainability of welfare capitalist futures, and the move to a welfare capitalist present.  Moves to a welfare capitalist state without a change in ownership of at least some industries leaves corporations, not tied to territories as states are, to move to more profitable areas, furthering their relative power to said states.  This is why taxes are so high in welfare capitalist nations–maintenance of such programs in capitalism necessitates taxation for revenue, whereas it could come from profits directly under socialism.  This practical critique–that maintenance of capitalism undermines welfare programs–reveals (I think) a larger critique.  If our society is better and these problems are remedied insofar as we move away from capitalist laws of operation and distribution, why won’t a complete move away from capitalism be. . . a better world?

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