Friday, June 26, 2009

Book Review of 'The Dialectics of Globalization'

The Dialectics of Globalization: Economic and Political Conflict in a Transnational World
Jerry Harris
Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008, 2nd edition. 285 pp.

Jerry Harris has provided a wide-ranging yet detailed investigation into the unfolding of global capitalism. The book, Dialectics of Globalization, published (2006, 2008) in the years leading up to the ongoing global financial crisis, illuminates the hyper-intensification of political and economic changes leading us to where we are today. Made up of a collection of updated journal articles, it amasses an impressive body of work conceptually rooted in an understanding of globalization in its entirety.

Key for accepting the approach in his book, Harris argues that class relations in globalization must be reconceptualized beyond the confines of the nation-state. The rapid changes in production, technology, finance/capital accumulation have transformed the international economy into a global economy, creating consensus among corporate elites that barriers to investment and trade must be removed. A transnational capitalist class (TCC), promoting this project and directly involved in the accumulation of global capital, is now the dominant socio-economic group. Harris takes his readers through the maturing of this process, providing fascinating insight on the technological and financial engines propelling its expansion, as well as case studies that examine the process of global capitalism in countries ranging from Germany to Brazil and India.

Locating an economic process dialectically bound to political process, Harris introduces briefly the concept of a nascent global political apparatus that functions as an institutional counterpart to the TCC. Harris, as have others scholars of the Global Capitalism School, describe this as a nascent transnational state (TNS). But Harris never unpacks this theoretically advanced idea, nor elaborates empirically on the functional relations of its components to one another or to the TCC. The immensity and unique approach to the topic of globalization that Harris targets leaves readers with more questions both empirically and theoretically. Towards its end the book provides some insightful analysis of ‘Alternative Globalizations’ by looking at the tensions between revolutionary strategies, for example, the anti-statist approach (cooperatives in Argentina and the Zapatistas in Mexico), to the Gramscian-inspired struggle to capture state and civil power (Venezuela) or the vastly under-studied cooperatives in the Italian state of Emilia-Romagna.

The Dialectics of Globalization, a work grounded in its understanding of the connectivity and epochal nature of transformative processes in globalization, should be seen as a key text for critical global-transnational studies scholars.

Jeb Sprague
Department of Sociology,
University of California, Santa Barbara © Jeb Sprague 2009

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