Top Menu

The Amoral Elephant: Globalization and the Struggle for Social Justice in the Twenty-First Century


In November 1999, when more than forty thousand demonstrators in Seattle effectively shut down a World Trade Organization (WTO) conference, we saw what may well have been this country’s largest popular protest of the last twenty years or more. In April 2000, thousands converged on Washington D.C. to express opposition to the IMF and the World Bank, and more recently, massive demonstrations in Geneva, Melbourne and Prague succeeded in bringing international attention to the issues surrounding globalization. Against the backdrop of these historic events, William K. Tabb issues a comprehensive examination of the world capitalist system at the start of the twenty-first century. He confronts the prevailing view of globalization as the steamroller against which even the most powerful nations are helpless and explains the role of the state in creating the conditions necessary for capital’s dominance.

The Amoral Elephant examines the implications of globalization, drawing parallels to earlier stages of capitalist development to demonstrate the social burdens arising from the exploding financial markets. Tabb describes how international institutions, most importantly the International Monetary Fund and the WTO have focused on neoliberal goals to erode the welfare state and shift wealth from the poor to the rich. Moreover, he shows how regulatory frameworks—such as the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment, NAFTA, and the misleadingly named “Africa Growth and Opportunity Act”—are designed by these powerful institutions to provide greater freedom and opportunity for capital at the expense of social needs.

Tabb’s goal is grounded in the view that we cannot change the world if we do not first understand it better, that people take part in making their own history. For him, the task is not understanding for its own sake but rather, to make us better prepared to engage in the struggles for progressive social change.

An insightful, bold and lucid account of American domination, but written in an accessible style, which makes is appealing as a general text on the nature of global capitalism.

— Millennium Journal of International Studies

This is an excellent book. Concise and accessible yet rigorous, The Amoral Elephant clarifies what is at stake in the discourse of globalization as peaceful economic expansion and its practice of implied continuous intervention or guided missile diplomacy. Bill Tabb demonstrates that globalization is not inspired by objective developments of science and technology but a political strategy supported by the visible hand of the military aimed at opening markets to the benefit of capital expansion.

— Samir Amin, Director, Forum du Tiers Monde, Senegal

and author of Spectres of Capitalism

The Amoral Elephant is an insightful, comprehensive survey of the dynamics and contradictions of capitalism in our time. Bill Tabb makes a persuasive case for the proposition that the world is headed for more crises, more volatility, and greater resistance to globalization over the next few years.

— Walden Bello, Executive Director,

Focus on the Global South, Thailand

The more things change, the more they stay the same. That’s surely true of capitalism and this is what Bill Tabb’s superb book explains. The Amoral Elephant demonstrates why ‘Seattles’ must multiply, spread, deepen, and regenerate. Read it, get your socioeconomic head screwed on straight, and get a move on.

— Doug Dowd, author of Capitalism and Its Economics

A sharp and rigorous critique of neo-liberal globalization, the economic and political forces advancing it, and the need for an international movement of resistance. Demonstrating its roots in earlier stages of capitalism, Bill Tabb launches a broadside at those who have championed neo-liberal globalization, whether such championing is done with a velvet glove or a steel bat. The Amoral Elephant helps to provide the background and analysis for any serious discussion of alternative economic paths, as well as discussions about strategies of resistance to the juggernaut of neo-liberal globalization. Read this book!

— Bill Fletcher, Jr., Assistant to the President, AFL-CIO

William K. Tabb is professor of economics at Queens college and professor of political science at the Graduate Center of the City of New York. He is the author of The Postwar Japanese System: Cultural Economy and Economic Transformation (1995) and Restructuring Political Economy: The Great Divide in Economic Thought (1999).

Format Clear
SKU: mrp036X Categories: ,

Publication Date: March 2001

Number of Pages: 288

Paperback ISBN: 9781583670361