Drafted by a committee of 19 (but sufficiently well edited to read as if it were written by a single author) this book provides a well-argued, detailed and wide-ranging analysis of the consequences of economic globalization (the term corporate globalization is also extensively used in the book) and an examination of alternatives and the action required to move towards those alternatives. It has succeeded brilliantly, and deserves very close study, whether or not you agree with the drafting committee's views.
This is no extremist anti-corporate, anti-capitalist text, although it does clearly come to the conclusion that the vector of economic globalisation that we are on is neither inevitable, desirable nor sustainable. It is notable for arguing at the level of underlying principles and their practical consequences - it makes explicit the assumptions underlying corporate globalisation and questions them. This, in itself, is a valuable service as so much of the 'debate' in the media proceeds on the basis of bald assertion of essentially fallacious economic dogma.
The report starts with a critique of 'corporate globalization'. The term itself is useful, because the term 'globalization' has become something of a 'Humpty-Dumpty' word ('when I use a word, it means exactly what I want it to mean, neither more nor less'). 'Corporate globalization' describes a process driven and promoted by the large global corporations which, whatever its other consequences, gives primacy to the benefits that will flow to global business.
The critique identifies eight key features of corporate globalization:
1. 'Promotion of hypergrowth and unrestricted exploitation of environmental resources to fuel that growth
2. Privatization and commodification of public services and of remaining aspects of the global and community commons
3. Global cultural and economic homogenization and the intense promotion of consumerism
4. Integration and conversion of national economies, including some that were largely self-reliant, to environmentally and socially harmful export oriented production
5. Corporate deregulation and unrestricted movement of capital across borders
6. Dramatically increased corporate concentration
7. Dismantling of public health, social, and environmental programs already in place
8. Replacement of traditional powers of democratic nation-states and local communities by global corporate bureaucracies.'
It demonstrates each of these propositions and explores who are the beneficiaries of application of these policies. One of the complexities of trying to follow the arguments of the pro- and anti- globalisers is that both use statistics, both from apparently authoritative sources, that directly contradict each other. It is almost as if the two sides inhabit parallel universes that operate in different ways. Suffice it to say that the report puts forward convincing arguments in support of its case.
The critique proceeds to a devastating analysis of the impact of the World Bank, The IMF and the WTO, the three pillars of corporate globalisation, over the last four or five decades.
The report then argues ten principles for sustainable societies, as a basis for identifying ways of realising these principles in the subsequent chapters of the report. It argues that these principles 'seem to be the mirror opposites of the principles that drive the institutions of the corporate global economy.'.
One of the minor problems in the debate is that, whereas 'globalization' rolls easily off the tongue, 'the principle of subsidiarity' is neither easy to say nor obvious in its meaning. The report contains a chapter on the case for subsidiarity, and it is a strong one. The counter argument is almost entirely concerned with power. While there are many elements of conflict between corporate globalisation and the principle of subsidiarity - local control - they are not entirely antithetical. But the reach of the large corporates would unquestionably be reduced.
You may or may not agree with the arguments in this report, but they deserve serious attention. They are well and carefully argued, they represent (in fairly sophisticated terms) the views of a growing number of people around the world who believe that current beliefs and institutions serve them poorly, and they show those who wish to promote change a path for doing so.