THE COLLAPSE OF GLOBALISM AND THE REINVENTION OF THE WORLD
John Ralston Saul is already explaining that almost all of the reactions to the crisis which officially began in 2008 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 conclusion, first in Great Britain in June 2009 with Atlantic Books.
Proponents of globalism predicted that nation states were heading toward irrelevance: that economics. not politics or arms, would determine the course of human events; that growth in international trade would foster prosperous markets that would, in turn abolish poverty and change dictatorships into democracies. The successes of globalization include the astonishing growth in world trade and the unexpected “se of India and China, which seem slated to become twenty-first-century superpowers. 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. terrorism and renewed internal nationalism call for uniquely European solutions born out of local experiences and needs, Elsewhere, the world looks for answers to African debt. the AIDS epidemic, the return of fundamentalism and terrorism. all of which perversely refuse to disappear despite the theoretical rise in global prosperity. Insightful and prophetic, The Collapse of Globalism is destined to take its place as one of the seminal books of our time.
Reviews by Country
“John Ralston Saul…is broadly regarded as one of the premier thinkers of our age. He is both philosopher and commentator on the nature of contemporary society.”
“His message is one we should listen to carefully. His new thesis is, in a way, a thinking man’s doomsday book. Ralston Saul argues with customary purpose and precision that globalism is all but dead. He suggests that in its place, Western societies have begun to inculcate into their social fabric what he terms ‘positive nationalism.’”
“The man who wants to change the world. John Ralston Saul looks at life after globalism.” “an entertaining and wide-ranging account of how economists, corporate leaders and politicians fell under the spell of globalisation.”
“Like Orwell, Koestler, Marshall McLuhan, Primo Levy and rim Flannery, John Ralston Saul tells US unsparingly how tremendously we get things wrong … [Saul] has the most wide-ranging mind and [is] one of the greatest organizing and focusing teachers we have.”
“In The Collapse of Globalism, Canadian writer John Ralston Saul dissects the warm and blinking corpse of the neo-liberal economic fashion called Globalism.”
“Saul rationally addresses the widespread dissatisfaction niggling at the underbelly of the global growth fetish.”
“Without lapsing into his own brand of essentialism, Saul reminds us there is a lot of globe beyond Anglosphere, more to strategic solutions than Anglothink, and we should widen our frames of cultural and economic reference accordingly.”
“The appealing core of Saul’s message: the journey towards negative nationalism is not inevitable, it is a choice; citizens have some ‘capacity to say no when faced with theoretically inevitable forces.’”
“The Collapse of Globalism is a good attempt to disrupt the monotony and the laziness of contemporary philosophers, politicians and – naturally – diplomacy. 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.”
Saul makes “a forceful case for [Globalization’s] recent demise.”
“his finest work to date.”
“Saul writes about all this with neither the hard edge of an ideologue nor the smug superiority of one whose elite perch in society allows him special access to power (though indeed, it does). 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.”
“Recognizing that the death of an icon as pervasive as globalization may be difficult to accept for both its proponents and its critics, Saul brings together abundant evidence that the idea was coming apart, even as it grew.”
“a fresh and sophisticated analysis.”
“Saul’s post mortem on globalization is a searing account of the chaos, injuries and instability that have followed it. Despite this, he ends on a hopeful note, one that shows great faith in human resilience.”
“The Collapse of Globalism is a seminal book, one that ought to bring international appreciation to its author and to Canada. With this lucid, graceful and humane work, he takes his rightful place among this country’s enduring critical voices: Marshall McLuhan, Harold Innis and Northrop Frye, for example.”
“An ambitious take-no-prisoners assault on the three-decade-long experiment with global trade. It is nothing if not courageous”
“Clearly, this book with its big-picture perspective has much to offer. 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.”
“You can choose to agree or disagree with Saul as to whether these policies have produced quality of life gains in Canada or eroded our sovereignty and increased social inequality. It’s harder to take issue though with Saul’s devastating account of the impact of economic globalism on the Third World.”
“He excels in asking the right questions about why globalist ideology is under serious attack…[H]is views on China’s spectacular growth are engaging and refreshing”
Interview in The Tribune (Chandigarh), “His latest, very celebrated book.”
“John Ralston Saul’s book analyses the complex nature of globalism in all its relevant aspects. He makes a balance sheet of globalism’s failures and successes through its modest beginnings in the 1970s, its spread in 1980s and its triumph as an ideology (globalism) in the 1990s. He also takes a critical look at recent doubts over globalism as an all-pervading ideology.
As he says, ‘When a grand idea or ideology is fresh and the sailing is easy, even the most serious proponents make all-inclusive claims on its behalf. 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. As he says, ‘So which part of globalism belief will disappear and which will stay, we have no idea.’
He advocates ‘positive nationalism’ that is imbued with right spirit and strong ‘values.’ Knowing each other and acting in the public interest would then be positive nationalism and by extension positive internationalism. There is a whiff of the old vedic idea of the ‘world as one family’ in this expectation. 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. For a fresh understanding of globalism in a new light, John Saul’s book is a must read.”
“In nearly 300 pages of easy-flowing but brilliantly erudite prose, John Ralston Saul has outlined the history of Globalism, from its birth in the nineteen seventies, its rise, its heyday in the eighties, its decline in the early nineties to its ultimate demise by the turn of the century.”
“The reality is that the rich-poor divide is alarmingly widening in India and providing sustenance to disaffection; movements like naxalism are gathering pace, with potential for catastrophic consequences. In the last few months, after Saul’s book has been released, China is reported to have taken very high level serious policy decisions of far-reaching consequences, giving primacy to removal of poverty, reduction of the rich-poor divide and generally to focus on human development areas. Saul is even more valid on India and China, than he imagines.”
“The book is riveting reading, and cannot be dismissed as at the ravings of a mad man. It should be made required reading fro all Indian policy makers, Indian economists of whatever persuasion and indeed all concerned Indians.”
“Toronto philosopher-king John Ralston Saul is troubled. Early reviews of his new book, The Collapse of Globalism, have been too positive for comfort.
Saul, a long-standing foe of globalisation’s cheerleaders, is used to being the pariah of the establishment. Recently a business journalist likened reading his work to sharing a lift with a suicide bomber. So the plaudits make him wonder whether his message that globalisation is toast hasn’t hit hard enough.
‘I’m used to writing books that ride ahead of the wave,’ says Saul. ‘The reaction is often very negative.’
So why haven’t commentators assumed their usual defensive posture this time around?
‘You get the sense that they’re troubled and not sure what to make of it,’ he says. ‘A lot of senior bankers and politicians feel that this is happening even if they haven’t been able to put their fingers on what it means. So when they read a book like this, they think, ‘There’s an explanation. Is it the right explanation or the only explanation? But a least it’s an attempt to explain the disorder and confusion.’
“Saul is no knee-jerk opponent of capitalism. 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.
‘You have the large technocracies – transnationals with enormous amounts of cash – buying our small and medium-sized corporations as soon as they come on to the horizon,’ says Saul, ‘They’re not very creative themselves so they buy creativity.’”
“Saul argues that we’re living in an ideological vacuum, with globalism passed and with the identity of its successor unclear. He raises the terrifying possibility of globalism giving way to ‘negative nationalism’ – a rise in right-wing populist movements trading in the politics of race and social division.”
“Saul hopes that the void will be filled instead by ‘positive nationalism’, whereby quality of life will supplant the bottom line as the barometer of prosperity. But he’s not making forecasts.
‘We live in an era when people who write books are supposed to make predictions,’ he says. ‘In my view it is more important to ask: what is happening now and why is it happening? Then you get a sense of what you can do.’”
“John Ralston Saul argues in his latest book, The Collapse of Globalism, that that view of the world is already discredited. 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.”
“He is not an apologist for the anti-globalist movement. His thesis is more subtle and more profound than that.”
“His main conclusions, namely that globalism is dead and that national governments are reviving their sense of power and authority, go very much against the grain of collected wisdom.”
“the power of the big ideas, ideas that deserve some attention.”
“Saul skilfully punctures some of globalisation’s most cherished myths, using a series of case studies to show that the nation state is stronger, not weaker, than it was a decade ago. 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.”
“A decade ago, there was an assumption that globalisation on its own could lift people out of poverty. 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 1970s, in which a resurgent market ideology was to triumph over tired state socialism. The privatizations of the 1980s, 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.”
“There is much to commend his exposition of globalisation, or rather the ideology of globalisation, which he terms ‘globalism’: it is informative, engaging and, above all, bitingly critical.”
“Saul believes globalisation is now in retreat. 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.”
“This is an eminently readable book. 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.”
“It is like being raked by a full broadside from HMS Victory.”
“Elegantly written and deeply important book.”
“Saul has provided a vital analysis of why globalisation was never inevitable and always destined to fail, and of what will come in its place.”
“The Collapse of Globalism and the Reinvention of the World is Publié en Britain at a moment that would seem to make him right on the geopolitical money.”
“a call for democratic renewal and for a renewed pursuit of the common good.”
“Collapse” is a melodramatic word for what Saul itemises patiently and quietly – the present realisation that economics cannot be a religion no matter how devout its paid priesthood; that nation states have not withered despite megacorps; that the market does not a society make. And yes, there is such a thing as society. There had better be, or down we all tumble into Hobbesian chaos. Saul analyses what happened to Malaysia and New Zealand, heretic countries that renounced the neo-liberal faith, but have not yet been consumed by the threatened flames of bankruptcy and depression; and repeatedly returns to the idea that governmental responsibility constitutes true freedom – the power of what he calls “positive nationalism”. 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. There’s a wonderful vignette of the poisoned Viktor Yuschenko’s arrival at an EU dinner in Cracow from out of a snowstorm. Economics, like history, is people.
“As for globalisation, it is not as irresistible as portrayed in [The Last Mitterrand]. 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.”
“One of the world’s most imminent philosophers and economists and social thinkers. 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.”
“John Ralston Saul’s The Collapse of Globalism brings a new argument to the debate about economic globalization. This is, in itself, a triumph.”
“ There’s no indication that Saul hates markets or capitalism, or that he fails to appreciate the good that has been created. 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. But The Collapse of Globalism reminds us what the global economy really is–it’s something that humans have created, and it’s just a part of human society.
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. Saul says that it just isn’t so. Governments can make choices, and people aren’t required to simply follow what the market dictates, even if it hurts them.
This is the start of a new debate: We made this economy, shouldn’t it serve our interests?”
“Saul sees globalism as a failed theology that confuses ethics with morality.”
“A thoughtful and intellectually rigorous study of globalism’s rise and, if Saul is correct, imminent fall, the book carries a foreboding tone throughout. Yet, Saul asserts, the economic future may be brighter now that “the idea of choice is back,” itself a result of what he deems “positive nationalism.” Needless to say, Saul will have no fans among the tax cutters and free trade proselytizers, but his salient analysis is as accessible and relevant to the small shop owner as it is to the CEO of a multinational corporation.”
“Mr. Saul has a mean streak that keeps him entertaining, and he’s better at stinging description than soothing solutions. But if you read him, you will think twice before repeating today’s conventional wisdom.”