Friday, February 27, 2009

Globalization and policy space

Jon Garvie discusses four books covering different themes about globalization: Grewal’s Network Power, Wise’s Cultural Globalization, Walker and Thompson’s Critical Mass, and Green’s From Poverty to Power. I like the way he invokes Keynes’ referral to the need for ‘policy space’ to better shape globalization.

David Singh Grewal’s Network Power argues that globalization has made us less free and attempts a systematic analysis of how this came about. Grewal understands globalization as a network. It grows and asserts itself organically, and embraces abstract social norms (privatization, deregulation, free trade and so on) from which it becomes impossible for individuals or nations to deviate, even when they are shown to fail.

Green pleads that developing countries should be allowed the same “policy space” to develop at their own pace, rather than undergo forced liberalization at the behest of the WTO. Given the recent failure to conclude the Doha “development” deal, driven by poor countries’ refusal to relinquish some measures of agricultural protection, his wish may well be granted.

…in order to act on that insight, individuals and states must be allowed the freedom to self-organize; to cherry-pick from the disparate patterns of trade, finance and culture, and not swallow whole the received wisdom of civil society or international institutions. In 1933, John Maynard Keynes wrote that:

“Ideas, knowledge, science, hospitality, travel – these are the things which should of their nature be international. But let goods be homespun whenever it is reasonably and conveniently possible and, above all, let finance be primarily national. Yet, at the same time, those who seek to disembarrass a country of its entanglements should be very slow and wary. It should not be a matter of tearing up roots but of slowly training a plant to grow in a different direction.”

More on financial crisis, globalization and policy space here.