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John Ralston Saul is already explaining that almost all of the reactions to the crisis which officially began in have been little more than that — reactions to the status quo. Most of them have made the mistake of thinking that the crisis was provoked by a financial crisis.

Saul says this is not the case, and the crisis is far broader and far more profound. He believes that the more we react to the financial crisis the more we will freeze ourselves into the old globalist system, which is already on its way out. The Collapse of Globalism has been re-issued with a major new prologue and epilogue, most recently in Great Britain in January with Atlantic Books.

Proponents of globalism predicted that nation states were heading toward irrelevance: that economics. But its collapse has Left us with a chaotic vacuum: the United States appears determined to ignore his international critics; in Europe. Problems such as racism. Insightful and prophetic, The Collapse of Globalism is destined to take its place as one of the seminal books of our time. The world might not be flat after all, as some would argue, and history has definitely not come to an end as others once claimed.

Rather, his arguments, which are bound to bring derision on his head from some who inhabit ivory towers, penthouses and skyscrapers, are offered in prose which is gentle, elegant and steadfastly clinical.

Despite this, he ends on a hopeful note, one that shows great faith in human resilience. It is a wonderful read, chock-full of penetrating insights, and Ralston Saul has a magical ability to humanize the complex ideology of globalization and neo-liberalism. He also takes a critical look at recent doubts over globalism as an all-pervading ideology. This grand view makes it easier for them to impose the specific change they want.

When things become more complicated, as they do, the same advocates retreat to more modest claims, while still insisting on the central nature of their truth and its inevitability. Many will angrily deny they ever claimed more. The trajectory of globalism so far bears out this observation. The real question is: will globalism disappear? Saul, in this superbly written book, would not like that to happen. But he is no blind advocate of globalism either.

He takes a rational view of globalism as an idea, its practice so far, against historical background and geo-political forces that have shaped its trajectory. If the expectation materializes, globalism will succeed in crumbling walls of narrow nationalism and pernicious protectionism for a better world of tomorrow. Much depends on how different nations and peoples look upon globalism. Saul is even more valid on India and China, than he imagines.

It should be made required reading fro all Indian policy makers, Indian economists of whatever persuasion and indeed all concerned Indians. Early reviews of his new book, The Collapse of Globalism, have been too positive for comfort. Recently a business journalist likened reading his work to sharing a lift with a suicide bomber. Is it the right explanation or the only explanation? He believes in a vigorous marketplace based on aggressive competition and risk-taking.

Yet for Saul, globalism is the antithesis of the pro-capitalist creed it pretends to be. Then you get a sense of what you can do. It is not clear what will fill the vacuum left by the faltering of confidence in globalisation, but Saul is not inclined to mourn the intellectual poverty and arrogance of that mindset. It was a period in which economists got above themselves and were allowed to colonise the space left by a failure of political leadership.

Looking at the world through the prism of a particular school of economics, the globalists, as he calls them, believed societies around the world would be taken in new, interwoven and positive directions. His thesis is more subtle and more profound than that.

He also makes the very valid point that cheerleaders such as Friedman ignore values that having nothing to do with the market: national pride, indigenous culture and religious faith. That braying enthusiasm has given way to no more than a squeak. Saul is right to guard against the credulity of the globalisation gurus, who tend to believe that two countries whose economies are heavily intertwined will never go to war.

He is excellent at conjuring the uncertain atmosphere of the s, in which a resurgent market ideology was to triumph over tired state socialism.

The privatizations of the s, he points out, were less about unleashing the market to work miracles than allowing timid big business to cower in safe sectors. Saul has a keen eye for hypocrisy and a pungently dry wit. He is probably right.

He likens the present era — or interregnum — to that of the 70s when the old Keynesian system was in growing disarray but the neo-liberal era that was to replace it was neither strong enough nor coherent enough to supplant it. As a consequence, he believes we are now living in something of a vacuum. The brunt of his argument is surely right and the fact that the material is relatively familiar is no bad thing: after years of being forced to read text after text, speech after speech, article after article from the same neo-liberal globalisation hymn sheet, it is a breath of fresh air to read the unauthorized version.

And yes, there is such a thing as society. There had better be, or down we all tumble into Hobbesian chaos. Sometimes his tangential preoccupations soften the tone too much, but often they remind you that vast, impersonal economic forces are just the massive aggregate of millions of very personal preoccupations. Economics, like history, is people. The story of the last five years, as John Ralston Saul provocatively argues in the Collapse of Globalism is more its retreat than its advance.

Countries are asserting control of their national destinies. Malaysia and Argentina, for example, have both refused to kowtow to the financial markets and prospered. China is industrializing in its very particular fashion. Even tiny New Zealand has reversed its flirtation with a Thatcherite agenda and prospered. When surveying the world, what is striking its not the uniformity of policy but the diversity. The real choice, declares Ralston Saul, is positive or negative nationalism.

Interview in Motherjones. In The Collapse of Globalism John Ralston Saul challenges conventional orthodoxy by arguing that globalization has run its course, and that nationalism is reasserting itself all over the world. This is, in itself, a triumph. He marvels at advances in global communications, and he holds no misplaced nostalgia for the corrupt and oppressive governments that have failed because they were unable to function in the global economy. Globalization was supposed to deliver a world without borders and its adherents have often said that the power of governments would wane against the more fluid powers of commerce.

Summary Proponents of globalism predicted that nation states were heading toward irrelevance: that economics. He is both philosopher and commentator on the nature of contemporary society. Ralston Saul argues with customary purpose and precision that globalism is all but dead. John Ralston Saul looks at life after globalism. Publishers Weekly.


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Grand economic theories rarely last more than a few decades. Some, if they are particularly in tune with technological or political events, may make it to half a century. Beyond that, little short of military force can keep them in place. The wild open-market theory that died in had a run of just over thirty years. Communism, a complete melding of religious, economic, and global theories, stretched to seventy years in Russia and forty-five years in central Europe, thanks precisely to the intensive use of military and police force. Keynesianism, if you add its flexible, muscular form during the Depression to its more rigid postwar version, lasted forty-five years.


The Collapse Of Globalism: And The Reinvention Of The World

John Ralston Saul, Canadian political philosopher and Renaissance man-about-town, has written a book that attempts to answer that question. All that chivvying optimism about globalisation that animated Anglo-American intellectuals, he argues, has been swept under the carpet. National borders have never mattered so much. After their currency crises of , the countries of Asia are taking a more pragmatic view of the economy, and balancing market competition with regulation.

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