V.30: No. 11-12 November-December 2002 #354-355
Editorial note, p. 1
"Globalization and the Emerging Global Politics," Prabhat Patnaik, p. 3
"Globalization, Export-Oriented Employment for and Social Policy: A Case Study of India," Jayati Ghosh, p. 17
"Rural Development Policy in Latin America: The Future of the Countryside," Annelies Zoomers, p. 61
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The current number of Social Scientist is concerned largely with issues relating to "globalization". The lead article by Prabhat Patnaik raises the question: if "globalization" is driven by a new form of international finance capital which does not bear the stamp of its national origin the way finance capital in Lenin's time did, and if this fact undermines the isolated sovereignty of the individual nation-States in crucial ways, then what is the new form of capitalist State-system that is emerging in this new epoch? He detects a tendency for the emergence of a global imperialist dictatorship, not replacing the existing nation-States but superimposed upon them, through a process of appropriation of sovereignty from the States upon which it is superimposed. The tendency towards such a State-system which would be in conformity with the new form of international capital, has got greatly strengthened, according to him, in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as a consequence of the so-called global war on terrorism.
Two points made by him in this context are noteworthy: first, this emerging State-system is altogether sui generis. It is very different from the concepts of "super-imperialism" and "ultra-imperialism" with which we are familiar, the difference consisting, among other things, in the fact that important segments of the bourgeoisie in the third world itself are happy with such an arrangement. The second point is that authoritarianism in this scenario inheres not only in the hegemonic metropolitan power but also in the third world nationState which constitutes a part of the total State-system. The enactment of laws like POTA which give the domestic nation-State sweeping powers are pointers in this direction.
Jayati Ghosh's essay deals with a whole range of issues, including in particular the impact of the processes unleashed by "globalization" on women's employment. There is a view that the policies associated with "globalization" have a favourable impact on women's
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employment: since women can be employed on "flexible" terms there is much demand for their labour when the need is to be competitive in a world of "liberalized" trade. Ghosh raises three questions in this regard: first, women constitute the more easily dispensable section of the labour force, so that when there is any overall shrinking in employment opportunities, as happens with the deflationary measures associated with "neo-liberal" policies, they are the first to lose their jobs. Secondly, apart from this macro-effect, it is not even clear that the shift in the composition of activities that occurs with "neo-liberal" policies works to the advantage of women. No doubt certain kinds of export activities favour women's employment, but women's representation being less in the skill-intensive sectors they lose out from the shift in favour of such activities; moreover when women's employment rise, the wage-gap between women and men tends to get reduced which acts as an automatic check on any continuous increase in women's employment. She gives a wealth of data from third world countries to establish her propositions whose impressive range and sweep should appeal to readers.
The third paper by Annelies Zoomers while dealing with the entire question of rural development policy in Latin America has several important things to say about the impact of "neo-liberal" policies on agriculture. While the claim on behalf of such policies is that they open up export opportunities for agriculture and rectify the depressed domestic terms of trade for this sector that prevail under dirigisme, both of which benefit the entire countryside, the Latin American experience does not bear these claims out. In fact in most of these countries the opportunities provided by export agriculture have been cornered by a few large producers, while the minifundistas, unable to benefit from lucrative export opportunities but squeezed by higher input prices and the withdrawal of government support, have witnessed reduced incomes and growing poverty.
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