Between 'national liberalism' and 'progressive internationalism': quo vadis globalisation?

AuthorErol, Mehmet Erman
PositionTHE FUTURE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY: NEW BOOKS

Jeremy Green, Is Globalization Over? Polity 2019

The question that forms the title of Jeremy Green's book has increasingly dominated debates on contemporary global political economy since the global financial crisis of 2008. The unsettling political and economic developments following that crisis recalled the unpleasant events of the mid-twentieth century: rising right-wing nationalist populism, protectionism, disharmony in global governance and rivalries between great powers. The Covid-19 pandemic may be the final nail in the coffin. It is in this context that liberal magazines such as The Economist have said 'goodbye' to globalisation. (1) In this era of pessimism, Jeremy Green's timely account of the 'condition of globalisation' is cautiously optimistic about the condition and future of globalisation from a progressive and internationalist perspective.

Globalisation is in crisis. But Green makes a 'simple but important distinction--between globalisation as a process and a condition' (p3). While there has been some decline or reversal in globalisation as a 'process' since 2008, this does not mean the end of globalisation. The world economy is much more connected than it ever was before, and globalisation as a 'condition' is pervasive. This makes its dismantling politically and economically very costly and difficult. The globalised condition also buys some time for us to build a progressive internationalist solution to the crisis of globalisation, one that challenges the current toxic right-populist and nationalist critiques of globalisation. Although it is very unlikely, Green does not think total collapse of the globalised condition is impossible. The consequences of such a collapse would be catastrophic, precisely because of the pervasiveness of globalisation.

Different theoretical frameworks have guided different phases of the globalisation project: the classical liberalism of Smith and Ricardo; the embedded liberalism of Keynes; the neoliberalism of Hayek and Friedman; and contemporary national liberalism. Despite their differences, Green rightly argues that these doctrines share an understanding of economics and politics as separate spheres of social organisation (p23). However, he continues, this dichotomy proved to be purely theoretical, as the history of liberalism and globalisation is marked by constant state intervention. This is evident from imperialism (1870-1914) to the Bretton Woods system (1945-1971), and can be seen, too...

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