1. Anti-globalisation activists often called themselves anti-capitalist, and used the terms interchangeably. But if globalisation is capitalism by another name, why not simply call it capitalism? Substituting ‘globalisation’ for ‘capitalism’ implies that the real enemy is international capital: and that is dangerous. Opposition to global capital has been a defining feature of fascism since Hitler wrote, in Mein Kampf, ‘that the hardest battle would have to be fought not against hostile nations but against international capital’. At best, selective opposition to international capital propagates the illusion that capitalism can solve problems of poverty and unemployment so long as it remains national. At worst, it condones barbaric oppression and exploitation by indigenous capitalists, and encourages racism and xenophobia. Globalisation may be a phase of capitalism, but anti-globalisation can never be anti-capitalist, because genuine opposition to capitalism doesn’t distinguish between ‘national’ and ‘international’ capital, or support the former against the latter.
It is true that liberalisation of international trade and capital movements is an important element of both globalisation and neoliberalism. However, while the other elements of the neoliberal agenda are compatible with globalisation, they are not necessarily part of it. Unlike the IMF and World Bank, the WTO is a one-country-one-vote institution in which the majority of members are developing countries, and if they were to get together, it would be entirely possible to pass progressive measures like the protection of core labour rights and the environment, especially if these were supported by some of the developed country governments. But this would require trade unions and other mass movements in these countries to put sufficient pressure on their governments to push through these measures, and to coordinate this effort across countries. There has been limited success in doing this in the field of healthcare, with a successful campaign by activists to make generic (and therefore much cheaper) life-saving drugs available to patients in a health emergency. But the effort to make core workers’ rights mandatory failed.
- a capitalist world economy covering more or less the entire globe;
- large-scale decolonisation and the emergence of some Third World countries as powerful players in the world economy;
- a changing relation between capital and the state such that the most advanced capitals do not need protection and military support from a nation-state but instead need porous national borders and global regulation;
- the emergence of Information and Communication Technologies both as a new and increasingly dominant branch of production in itself and as a factor affecting other branches of production, services and finance;
- the emergence and increasing importance of new institutional investors, including pension funds, and new forms of finance capital; and
- new institutions of global governance based on the understanding that actions taken in one country can have serious consequences in another.