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Capitalist Globalization: Consequences, Resistance, and Alternatives


“Globalization,” surely one of the most used and abused buzzwords of recent decades, describes a phenomenon that is typically considered to be a neutral and inevitable expansion of market forces across the planet. Nearly all economists, politicians, business leaders, and mainstream journalists view globalization as the natural result of economic development, and a beneficial one at that. But, as noted economist Martin Hart-Landsberg argues, this perception does not match the reality of globalization. The rise of transnational corporations and their global production chains was the result of intentional and political acts, decisions made at the highest levels of power. Their aim—to increase profits by seeking the cheapest sources of labor and raw materials—was facilitated through policy-making at the national and international levels, and was largely successful. But workers in every nation have paid the costs, in the form of increased inequality and poverty, the destruction of social welfare provisions and labor unions, and an erratic global economy prone to bubbles, busts, and crises.

This book examines the historical record of globalization and restores agency to the capitalists, policy-makers, and politicians who worked to craft a regime of world-wide exploitation. It demolishes their neoliberal ideology—already on shaky ground after the 2008 financial crisis—and picks apart the record of trade agreements like NAFTA and institutions like the WTO. But, crucially, Hart-Landsberg also discusses alternatives to capitalist globalization, looking to examples such as South America’s Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) for clues on how to build an international economy based on solidarity, social development, and shared prosperity.

This indispensable guide to the integration of East Asia into the multinational corporations’ networks of integrated production clearly shows how the ruling classes of China and South Korea have taken the initiative in sponsoring their country’s integration into an overall process of capitalist globalization which has not only been US-led but also dependent on American mass consumption. Its exposure of the costs to the working classes in each country make this book essential reading for all those looking beyond the unfortunately very limited alternatives addressed here to neoliberal free trade in postwar Europe and contemporary Latin America.

—Leo Panitch, editor, Socialist Register; Canada Research Chair in Comparative Political Economy, York University; co-author (with Sam Gindin), The Making of Global Capitalism

Building upon his excellent in-depth studies of capitalist development in South Korea, Japan and China, Martin Hart-Landsberg takes his analysis to the next level by explaining the profound significance of the restructuring of the international organization of production with the creation of cross-border production networks and global (surplus) value chains. By focusing upon how the drive for profits has led transnational corporations to divide production into multiple components in different locations, Hart-Landsberg convincingly demonstrates that a nation-state framework is a distorting lens through which to analyze capitalist globalization. He shows, too, that reliance upon national accounting data is not only a barrier to a correct analysis of the world of international capital—it also makes changing that world difficult because it supports the appearance that workers of other nations are the enemy rather than the transnational corporations that divide and weaken all workers. Hart-Landsberg’s stress upon the sphere of production is essential because it gives him particular insight into economic theory, neoliberalism and state policies designed to remove all existing barriers to transnational capital and as well to consider potential alternatives such as those being explored in Latin America.

—Michael A. Lebowitz, professor emeritus, Simon Fraser University; author, The Contradictions of ‘Real Socialism’

What exactly is ‘globalization’? Why does it matter for working people and how does it relate to neoliberalism and capitalism? Why are Chinese workers not the rivals of American workers but their potential allies? Why do workers all over the world suffer from unemployment, declining real wages, disappearing benefits and many other hardships? How can capitalist globalization be resisted and how can development be reoriented towards the common good? These are the questions Martin Hart-Landsberg brilliantly discusses and convincingly answers.

—Minqi Li, University of Utah; author, The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World Economy

Table of Contents



Part I: Capitalist Globalization

1. The Internationalization of Production and its Consequences

Part II: The Neoliberal Project and Resistance

2. Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality

3. Capitalism, the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, and Resistance

4. After Seattle: Strategic Thinking About Movement Building

Part III: Alternatives to Capitalist Globalization

5. Learning from ALBA and the Bank of the South: Challenges and Possibilities

6. ALBA and the Promise of Cooperative Development



Martin Hart-Landsberg is professor of economics and director of the political economy program at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon; and adjunct researcher at the Institute for Social Sciences, Gyeongsang National University, South Korea. He is the author or editor of six books, including, most recently, Marxist Perspectives on South Korea in the Global Economy.

Publication Date: August 2013

Number of Pages: 208

Paperback ISBN: 9781583673522

Cloth ISBN: 9781583673539

eBook ISBN: 9781583673546