chapter  5
24 Pages

Through the Global Looking Glass

If it is not capitalism per se causing the problem, is it globalization? Or, at least, the kind of globalization that is extending the influence of free markets and multinational companies into every corner of every country, even where it is not wanted? It turns out, on further investigation, that even the so-called ‘anti-globalization movement’ is passionate about what they see as the right kind of globalization. These are hotly contested ideological positions; even those archetypal motherhood-and-apple-pie notions of ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ have been conscripted into the war of words around the war on terrorism. Both public institutions – with organizations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representing a 30-year-old Washington Consensus – and private-sector multinationals are increasingly under the cosh for accelerating environmental damage and making the lives of the poor even worse – charges which are strenuously denied by both political and business leaders. But does ‘sustainable capitalism’ mean an end of the huge global companies that have become so powerful over the last 20 years? Or can they, too, be ‘re-engineered’? Could they really become a genuine ‘force for good’, as well as a continuing engine of profit generation?